Italians on Italians
Beyond Toscano

Fare la scarpetta – (Do the little shoe)

Fare la scarpetta – (Do the little shoe)
Just like it’s authentic in many Asian countries to slurp the leftovers in a noddle bowl, many Tuscans have their own way of polishing off a meal.

Fare la scarpetta, or ‘doing the little shoe’ is a technique used to squeeze every last drop of flavour from a dish. When a meal is over, diners break off a little bread and use it to mop up any sauce left on the plate. It’s one of the reasons Tuscan bread is considered by many visitors to be so bland – it’s designed without salt to absorb flavour from the food, not conflict with it.

The technique probably gets its name from the fact that once bent, the bread takes the shape of a small shoe, and much like a shoe leaves footprints in the ground, it leaves a clean mark on the plate where it was swiped. And while it’s socially acceptable in most households, it’s probably best not to try it at a fancy restaurant.