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Dario Checchini arrived for what was to be a simple dinner, in true Tuscan style. Simplicity existed in the ingredients but it certainly did not exist in the ritual, technique and vibrant energy that surrounded the creation of this unforgettable meal. My memory wants to paint a picture that he showed up with an actual suitcase of meats, which may be true or may not. There were unbelievably thick slices of soft and tender finocchiona, an Italian beef tartare pressed onto rosemary stems and grilled ever so lightly before going swimming in a pool of pungent olive oil. I picked figs from the neighbors tree to adorn a mezze platter of treats as friends made vinaigrette, sour plum crumble and braised fagiolini. There were also tomato salads, radicchio dressed with anchovies and fennel, fettunta and countless bottles of Tuscan red wines. A wood fire burned in the outdoor grill as Dario set a massive porterhouse steak atop the flames. No oil, no salt. He sang and chanted as he cooked this colossal morsel, sending prayers into the heavens and earth. To some it was a show but to me it was a ritual I desired to embody. We stood on the steps above the grill as Dario sliced the steak, our dishes ready and waiting around the table. He sprinkled them with salt filled with herbs from the lands where his cattle graze and olive oil from the olive trees only steps away from where the herbs were harvested. We sat down to a simple meal that was, in fact, not simple at all. Food is ritual, food is prayer, may you find time this week to embrace the rituals of connection and creation through mother earth's abundance.