Monday 16 May, 2016

A Taste of Florence: The Lampredotto Sandwich

Bobby is a Principal with a background in History and Social Studies. He first traveled with EF Educational Tours in 2010 to Rome and Paris, and now leads a student tour every summer. He believes that young people should experience life outside of their communities, and that understanding other cultures is imperative to solving global challenges.

Located behind the leather purses, jackets, and other goods one can find at the famous San Lorenzo markets in Florence, Italy, is one of the cities greatest treasures.  And no, I’m not referring to Michelangelo’s David, or Ghiberti’s Gates of Paradise, though you will find these treasures only a few minutes away.  I’m talking about Florence’s Central Market, or Mercato Centrale, which houses locally sourced food, highlighting the best of Tuscany—olives, cheese and cured meats.

When entering the market from the ground floor, you’re met by vendors selling fresh, local ingredients.  But the upstairs, is a large, open space food court of sorts.  It’s here that you can eat and sample all of the area’s amazing foods.

When I visited the market during the summer of 2015, my mission was to find and eat one thing in particular, the lampredotto sandwich.  A lampredotto sandwich is not something you’ll find in your average fast-food sandwich joint in the United States. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find one anywhere in the States. The sandwich, you see, is made from the abomasum of a cow, or more bluntly, a cow’s fourth and final stomach section. Historically, it was served to the city’s working-class, dating back to the 15th century. But today it can be found in restaurants throughout the city. Boiled in water with tomato, celery and other herbs and spices, the cow stomach is chopped up, garnished with a parsley green and hot chili sauce and then served on a baked bun that’s been dipped in the broth.

Sandwich (New) Photo

Most of my students made a beeline for the pizza or pasta (all great choices, as well), but I immediately set out to find my sandwich.  After a few minutes of exploring, I found a lampredotto vendor located in the middle of the market.  I like to think of myself as an adventurous eater, but this was something entirely foreign to me, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little nervous.

When the stomach is pulled from the boiling water it can be quite an intimidating site, but as the cook chopped and prepared the sandwich it started to not only look edible, but delicious. Taking my sandwich, I went and sat with my student’s and did what any good food traveler does, I took a picture of it.

The sandwich itself was terrific; the bun was warm and the meat was slightly firm, but full of flavor. My nervousness quickly disappeared, as did the sandwich.  I ate every bite of it, leaving not a crumb on the wrapper.

If your upcoming trip takes you to the birthplace of the Renaissance, I encourage you to be adventurous and try the lampredotto sandwich.  You won’t be sorry that you did.  Eat well and happy travels!

Wander through Florence’s San Lorenzo Market with your students on an educational tour of Italy!