Of the things I missed when I was living in Italy were the sliced loaves of bread that are a staple of shopping in the UK. When we went to the supermarket, the only thing similar was hidden away on a small top shelf at the edge of the bakery area and labelled something like “American style”. It was expensive too, so it didn’t become part of our regular shopping. On the odd occasion when we bought a small pack, it was like tasting a small piece of ‘home’. How strange that putting together two slices of the soft white bread and spreading some peanut butter or chocolate spread would remind me of life back in Scotland.
However, the usual everyday bread I remember getting used to eating in Florence were these chunky, crusty and hard Tuscan loaves that I thought had no taste whatsoever. Unfortunately, the last thing I paid attention to at the time was the name of the bread I was eating, so I don’t remember what type it was. They were large, and indeed most loaves of bread sold in Italy tend to be larger than the British average.
The bread section in a typical Italian supermarket is usually larger than the British equivalent and has a staggering range of breads in many shapes and varieties. I remember that children at school in Florence would bring with them giant ‘panini’ filled with prosciutto and mozzarella. Italians do like their bread and it is used extensively throughout much of Italian cooking.
My own favourite ‘bread’, if indeed you can call them that, are the ‘fette biscottate’ (‘crispy slices’) sold in every Italian supermarket. They are mini toasted slices of white or wholemeal bread, and I still enjoy them as much today as I did back when I was a kid in Florence. The best way to enjoy them is to spread generously with Nutella or jam.
I think a late night snack is now in order…