• 2016.09.27
  • Fish in Florence!
The hot summer is coming to an end, the daytimes are still hot, but the mornings and evenings are gradually getting cooler. Here in Florence now I get that lovely feeling that fall is coming.

Something I noticed as summer was approaching this year was an increase in the number of restaurants serving a lot of fish dishes, a trend that has emerged in Florence around this year. Of course Tuscany borders the sea and there are lovely, fresh fish to be caught along the Tuscany coast, so traditional dishes such as cacciucco (a fish stew), baccala alla livornese (Livornian salted cod), and plates piled with fritto (like tempura) of shrimps, octopus and fish regularly feature on the dinner table. The Tuscan and Florentine cuisine here in Florence centers on meat and bean dishes like bistecca alla Fiorentina (Tuscan Porterhouse), trippa (tripe), lampredotto (cow’s forth stomach), and wild boar stew. Seafood has been expensive and suffered an enduring freshness-image problem, so it didn’t often appear on dinner tables. But with the improvement of distribution systems in recent times, and perhaps because of the trend toward healthy eating, more sushi shops have appeared, which has meant more and more people are happy about eating fresh fish, and this is probably why there has been a dramatic growth of restaurants where you can eat fish in Florence.

But the economic downturn has meant a change from “seafood restaurant = expensive!” to more seafood restaurants for casual diners where you can eat fresh seafood at more affordable prices than in the past.

And, it doesn’t stop at restaurants. There are more wine bars where you can eat seafood snacks with your drink and even panini shops specializing in seafood have sprung up, so there are now more opportunities to eat fish at affordable prices.

I love fish, so these last few months I’ve been wandering about eating at various restaurants one after the other: a restaurant I wanted to try on a special day; a restaurant just right for the day I decided “I really want to eat oysters today”; a restaurant I can just drop into for a quick meal with some friends even though I don’t have much time; a restaurant where I can go in a large group and be loud; and a restaurant for when I want to eat fish, but I also want a really good wine to go with it, and so on. This growth of choices has meant there are now more opportunities than before to enjoy a meal. Things are looking good!

For people who have come from Japan for work, for travellers staying long-term, and for people who prefer to avoid heavy food, the growth in restaurants serving fish in Florence, which had been stolidly meat-centric, can only mean greater joy.

Florence’s traditional meat dishes are truly delicious, so I do hope you try them whenever you come here. But when you start longing to eat something else, why not try some fish dishes, dishes that are a little different to Japan’s.



  • Mirai Tsuda
  • JobAIS sommelier (Italy’s national qualification for sommeliers),Wine Journalist

Since acquiring the qualification as a sommelier, I have been visiting some 200 wineries each year. My goal is to share the fascinations of Italy to the people of Japan by holding wine seminars as well as writing about wine and Italian cuisine.

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