What to eat in Apulia
Apulia, also known as the "heel" of the Italian boot, is one of Italy’s more interesting regions. Barely touched by tourists, its landscape is close to Greece, about 45 miles away across the Adriatic, which is why many towns and villages also have a Greek appearance.
Apulia is also one Europe’s great agricultural areas, producing much of Italy’s wine and olive oil, vast quantities of its fruit and vegetables, and most of the hard durum wheat used to make its pasta. Having these fantastic ingredients to choose from, its cuisine tends to be simple and delicious, relying on fresh, local produce. These are the region’s specialties, make sure you taste them when you go.
Puglia’s typical pasta is orecchiette ("little ears", after their shape), but the region is home to many other varieties including troccoli, cavatelli, and more. Most are made with just flour and water, eggs having once been considered a luxury. The classic accompaniment to orecchiette is a sauce of cime di rape, similar to a leafy broccoli. You’ll also find orecchiette and other pastas served with cozze (mussels), aged ricotta cheese, cicerchie (fava beans), wild chicory, and courgette flowers.
Bread and Taralli
The bread in Puglia, which accompanies all meals, is more diverse than many other regions in Italy and comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. It is cooked in traditional wood burning bread ovens and some of the villages still have communal bread ovens where the locals go to bake their bread every day. The bread of Altamura, a town in the north west of the region, is particularly famous. Made from durum wheat flour, yeast, water and marine salt, originally, the bread was created for the shepherds and farmers who would work in the surrounding countryside for many days at a time without returning home.
Taralli are apulia’s snack foods. Small and circular, they are similar in texture to a breadstick or a pretzel. Taralli are classically formed into rings or ovals about 10 to 12.5 cm (4 to 5 inches) in circumference. Similar to bagels, they are briefly boiled before being baked, which gives them a very interesting texture.
Puglia has many delicious local cheeses, perhaps the most famous being Burrata which is made from mozzarella and cream. The outer shell is solid mozzarella, while the inside contains both mozzarella and cream, giving it an unusual, soft texture. It is usually served fresh and at room temperature. The word burrata means "buttered" in Italian.
And after enjoying some of the most famous foods of Apulia, work them off by dancing its most famous dance: the pizzica (an Italian folk dance similar to the tarantella)!