At the "heel of Italian boot", in the south-eastern Italy, there is Puglia, a region that is not only appreciated by Italians but also by travellers from all over the world, seeking authentic and traditional Italian cuisine. The typical foods and recipes are a big part of Apulia’s cultural identity. The local recipes have their origin in the "cucina povera” (simple- "poor"- kitchen), a name which is by far no indicator for the recipes' resourcefulness; it actually means "using what the sea and earth has to offer" and cook with fresh, local and seasonal ingredients.
Let us start our food journey in Bari, the biggest city in Apulia. Whenever you feel hungry just look for the closest bakery and try the baresi's favorite snack (people who live in Bari): the focaccia barese. It is a fluffy delicious yeast dough, baked with tomatoes and olives. Another delicious snack which is typical in the northern Apulia is the panzerotti, which is fried dough filled with mozzarella and tomato.
Andria, which is just a few kilometers away from Bari, is particularly famous for the most delicious mozzarella and burrata, which is like a creamier and a more liquid version of mozzarella, filled with whipped cream and cheese strings - Heaven for cheese lovers!
The southern part of Apulia is called Salento. The cuisine of the Salento peninsula is specifically known for their unique ways of making bread. Typical are their pizzi leccesi, a fluffy small bread baked with olives, onion and tomatoes and the puccia, which is the salentese version of a burger bun prepared with malt, beer yeast and olive oil. One of the most popular snacks among leccesi is the rustico leccese, a disk of puff pastry filled with béchamel sauce, tomato, mozzarella and pepper.
Whenever you have lunch or dinner at a restaurant there are a few local dishes which you should definitely try: one of my favorites is of course, the handmade fresh pasta orecchiette with turnip greens (orecchiette alle cime di rapa). Seafood lovers should try riso, patate e cozze, also called tiella barese which consists of rice, potatoes and mussels all baked in the oven, or linguine ai ricci di mare, which is linguine pasta with sea urchins. Two vegan and very tasty options for a local southern italian meal are the ciceri e tria, made out of chickpeas and tiny fried pieces of pasta and garlic and the cicoria e fave, which is a chicory made by beans.
La vita è troppo breve per mangiare e bere male
...or simply..."Life is too short for bad food and drinks"
When you visit Apulia, make sure you have enough time to taste your way through the local and authentic cuisine. The great thing is that despite the common thread of many dishes, each town has their own specialty, so wherever you go, it is sure that you will have a very enjoyable culinary experience.
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