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Puglia sums up all that is best : just HEAVEN!

The Cultural Association JUMP IN, Apulia PROMOTION, Regional Agency for Tourism and PUGLIA, Tourism Department, Culture and Tourism Organize a cultural event titled „DISCOVER PUGLIA” from 14 to 21 December in the town of Poggiardo and other municipalities in the Province of Lecce.

I WAS SO LUCKY TO TAKE PART IN IT!
Puglia sums up all that is best about Mediterranean cuisine: top-quality local produce (including olives, tomatoes, courgettes, chickpeas, some of Italy’s best cheeses and a succulent range of fruits) combined and prepared in the simplest of ways

The traditional local pasta – Orecchiette or ‚little ears’ – is classically served with cime di rape (turnip tops), but you can cook it with the traditional italian pomodoro boiled sauce.
We spend a full day to cook this awesome “orecchiette” with some extremely funny “mamme pugliesi”, it was my favourite day and it ended really late through rivers of red wine, just HEAVEN!

But I found either that Puglia’s historic links with the Arab and Byzantine worlds led local cooks to experiment with spices, chilli (which goes in olio santo, the local, fortified olive oil) and aubergines. White fish was always a rich man’s luxury, but ‚poor’ seafood such as mussels, sea urchins and anchovies have a solid place in the regional tradition.
Some of the best local restaurants are family operations that have gone upmarket without betraying their home-cooking roots.Look around for small, extremely hospitable family restaurants.

My drink of choice would be deep red Primitivo wine…
As with pasta, the local durum wheat is also used in Puglia’s delicious bread, which comes in all shapes and sizes and is a constant companion to meals. In more remote villages, communal wood-burning ovens still exist where local housewives can bake their own bread. Altamura, a small town in the north-west of Puglia was the first town in Europe to receive a DOP classification (Denomination of Origin of Production) for its bread.

Puglia’s long coastline and fishing tradition bring large quantites of seafood to the table. Red mullet, anchovies, gilt-head bream, mussels, sea bass and cuttlefish are featured in many recipes and the many seafront restaurants in towns like Gallipoli,Otranto, Brindisi and Taranto serve up feasts of just-caught fish.

If you still have room after the main courses, Puglia’s desserts will certainly tempt you. Many are almond based (the region produces vast quantities of almonds), often combined with honey or vin cotto di fichi (a kind of fig concentrate), while sweetened ricotta cheese sweets are also a local favourite.

Puglia’s comforting country cuisine may not be as famous as that of some other Italian regions, but it is full of goodness and genuineness and thoroughly local, a pure expression of popular traditions and the natural bounty of the land.

 

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