Food and Wine of Puglia, Italy
If you could fly over the countryside of Puglia like a bird you would be amazed at the fertility and richness of this area. It is literally an immense farm producing immense quantities of grain, tomatoes, grapes, artichokes, lettuce, fennel, peppers, onions, and olive oil. Add to this a sea full of fish, grazing fields full of cattle and sheep, and as a result you have an extremely simple cuisine. It's not necessary to complicate things: just combining the superb ingredients the dishes create themselves.
In this land the farmers live in small white stucco houses, decorated with branches of tomatoes hung out to dry and then drowned in oil flavoured with oregano. Many of them still carry their bread to the communal oven to bake. A typical snack of this region is the "calzone" (big sock) which is made from a lump of dough spread with onions, black olives, capers, tomatoes, pecorino cheese, anchovies and parsley, closed and pinched around the edges, and baked in the oven.
Puglia is proud of its homemade pasta, often formed of unusual shapes like the "orecchiette" (little ears). For Sunday dinners a favorite is "Maccheroni al forno" or baked maccheroni, made with little meat balls, sliced hardboiled eggs, pieces of artichoke, salami, and cheese, often surrounded with piecrust and baked in the oven.
As for meat, beef is used either for meat sauce or meatballs, possibly because in poorer times the only beef to be slaughtered were old and produced tough steaks. The dominant meat in Puglia is lamb, served on a spit, roasted, stewed, or even fried.
Due to the popularity of lamb and the enormous flocks, cheese made from sheep's milk is very popular including fresh ricotta, pecorino, and "burrata di Andria," which must be consumed within 24 hours to be properly appreciated.
Since three quarters of the area of Puglia is surrounded by the sea its products are abundant and popular. Sea turtle, oysters, mussels, cuttlefish, and octopus are cooked in simple ways, sometimes even eaten raw in the markets.
Home-grown yellow and white melons, sweet watermelons, and grapes often finish a meal in Puglia.
Provincial Cuisine Puglia, Italy
Wines of Puglia, Italy