From mid-October to the end of December everybody in Tuscany gets ready for their first bruschetta (pronounced “broo-SKET-ta“) of the season. Hard to find a simpler dish than an autumn bruschetta. At this time of the year you won’t find any fresh tomatoes or basil on it. Just the essentials: a slice of bread and a generous serving of Tuscany’s peppery Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
There are two rites of passage to your first bruschetta of the olive picking season. The first is by eating it right at the frantoio (mill/press), literally fresh from the olive press. Nothing nicer after a long week of olive picking and the resulting backache, than that welcoming smile and a lovely slice of bread dripping with the frantoio’s freshly pressed green oil.
Then there is the variazione del tema (lit., variation of the theme). To taste your new oil in all of its shades, it’s an imperative to repeat the procedure first thing you arrive back home. A few slices of bread are toasted on the fire or in the oven, before you drizzle the green golden liquid on top of the toasted bread. Once you’ve tasted it the essential way, you are free to add a bit of salt, or swipe the bread with a clove of garlic before pouring the oil on it. Obviously with so simple a dish, the ingredients have to be of prime quality. Nevertheless be generous with the oil.
After the first bite of bruschetta covered in your very own oil, you’ll remember why the olive presser’s farewell wasn’t any of the usual greetings. A simple Ciao or Arrivederci won’t do. There is only one salute adequate to the sacredness of this moment – Buona Bruschetta!