When I was 20, I spent a semester in Florence, Italy. I arrived a fairly committed vegetarian but within a week or 2, there I was, debating the merits of Prosciutto di Parma versus Prosciutto di San Daniele at the market, working up the nerve to try a tripe sandwich, and being schooled on how to chop chicken livers with a mezzaluna to make the ubiquitous crostini toscani. Needless to say, it was an exciting time in my life.
I will admit, it took me a couple of tries to warm to the rustic chicken liver pâté smeared crostini toscani, but they are literally everywhere in Florence and throughout Tuscany. You go to a restaurant, they’re on the menu. Stopping in at a wine bar? Yup, they’re going to be offered. Dinner at a house in the countryside? You can bet on starting with them. They’re unavoidable and even if their rather dull looking appearance doesn’t win your heart at first glance, after a few polite nibbles they start to grow on you. Polite nibbles will turn into voracious bites which will eventually turn into tucking a few in your purse for a midnight snack.
And then you’ll return home and realize how much you miss the ugly brown crostini you’d just taken for granted. But thankfully, the pâté is ridiculously easy to make. You can make a batch, toast up a pile of crostini, pop a bottle of Chianti, and whisk yourself away to Italy whenever the mood strikes. I find myself doing this quite often. Usually it’s just a tiny batch made from just 1 liver, enough for a couple of toasts to munch on while a chicken roasts, but occasionally I’ll make a bigger batch.
This particular version isn’t exactly the traditional way of making Tuscan chicken pâté, as mushrooms also play a large role. I had over-bought mushrooms and wanted to use them up, so I made a pâté that was half mushrooms, half liver. The mushrooms and chicken livers play nicely off each other to make a spread that is rich and earthy and traditional or not, just eyeing it up, I immediately return to my 20 year old self, off exploring a new place in the world and a new world of food.