Story: Puglia in southern Italy is a place steeped in tradition. In my travels to the region, some of the most beautiful locations I photographed were masserias – Puglia’s historic farmhouses which have been converted into chic boutique hotels but retain their Greek influence.
I enjoyed many long and lazy Italian dinners in these buildings and this photo journal goes some way to reflect those memories.
We’d begin with antipasti, such as raw cuttlefish with lemon, sardines, octopus or frittura mista and pettole – a Puglia classic of fried clusters of dough occasionally stuffed with olives, anchovies or salt cod.
This is followed by ‘primi piatti’, which is most always a pasta dish. But in Puglia, along with the famous orecchiette (a homemade pasta typical to Puglia), you’ll come across hardy vegetable-based dishes such as fave e cicoria – pureed broad beans with wild chicory, topped with a generous amount of rich Italian olive oil.
A dish like this falls under the ‘cucina povera’ category simply meaning ‘poor kitchen’ which was the perfect meal for farmers looking for a full stomach on a low budget. Puglia’s rocky interior is excellent for sheep farming so accordingly, your ‘secondi piatti’ in areas like Ostuni and Martina Franca might feature a mixed plate of meat, such as lamb, various types of sausage and meat skewers, served alongside roasted olive-oil potatoes with fresh rosemary and thyme. Another classic Pugliese dish is rolled pieces of horse or veal meat stuffed with herbs, sealed with a toothpick and covered in Nonna’s homemade tomato sauce.
The meal winds down with espresso or homemade limoncello and in the sub-peninsula of Salento, dessert is always the legendary pasticciotto – Italian pastries stuffed with egg custard.
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