Ilaria here. I don’t know about you, but Tuscany makes me think of tomatoes, basil, and the beach. My uncle, zio Alberto, was born in Grosseto, in the south of Tuscany, and that’s where I am staying now. He and zia Marcella (my aunty) lived in Genova for ages with the Biuso clan before moving down to Grosseto permanently. It’s a semi sort of farm life with a huge vegetable garden, and there’s an enormous fig tree and heaps of olive trees, and these are their little babies. Family and friends roll in and out as regularly as the nearby tide on Principina beach, one of my favourite places in Italy. This was the first beach I came to in Italy as a child, and we always make a b-line there when I am in Grosseto. It’s a place that’s secured a deep fondness in my heart because I’ve had so much fun there.
Along similar lines of family comfort is Marcella’s tomato sugo (sauce), served with pasta. She’s been making variations of it for as long as I can remember and it’s one of the things I look forward to most when coming here. The ingredients are simple: tomatoes and basil from the garden with the addition of a little onion and some butter. Even though I usually can’t stand butter, for some reason in this sauce it’s never bothered me. You need to cook it a tad longer than a sauce made from canned tomatoes because fresh tomatoes invariably hold more liquid than canned tomatoes, but there’s really not much more to it than that. The flavour is so pure, just tomatoes really, and it’s so sweet! While the recipe makes a hefty quantity, store any remaining sauce in jars in a cool place ready for a quick and easy meal when the fancy takes ya.