TASTE / Bella Figura

This is a fun little read for fans of simple Tuscan food.

The title is taken from the Italian concept of bella figura. Although translated as 'beautiful figure', it is in fact about the idea of making every aspect of life as beautiful as it can be. Both romantic and practical, making bella figura encompasses manners and grace, generosity and abundance. Beauty is revered in Italy, through art and architecture, as well as more simply by a well tailored dress. It is of course about making a good impression but. I'd like to think, for ones own enjoyment as much as for creating an outward appearance.

From personal experience, I see it in how the table is always dressed with a tablecloth, the warm and welcoming sense of appreciation and occasion that is part of the most simple mid-week lunch at home.

Kamin Mohammadi's book chronicles her adventures in learning to live beautifully. Each chapter begins with the produce, scent, moment and word of the month. I really enjoyed the references to her favourite Italian moments each month, I could relate to many of these, in paticular the occasion on which her companion parked the car right in the middle of the pedestrianised piazza! I honestly wish I had written a similar account of my year in the Veneto.

The story itself is an easy and entertaining read, and whilst some of her romantic tastes might have been questionable (Roberto/Dino? Unlikely to have made it to a second date I'm afraid!) her food ones are not so. We recently enjoyed using her recipes as part of a weekly meal plan. Here's a couple of our simple favourites:

Fresh Broad Bean and Pecorino Salad- Serves 2

1kg fresh broad beans. I used organic beans from Steepholding local organic farm which our two year old son enjoyed shelling with me.

150g medium mature pecorino. I used a Pienza we stock at the shop for real Tuscan authenticity.

Juice of one lemon.