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Author Topic: MAGNA GRAECIA  (Read 6005 times)
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Posts: 41646

« Reply #45 on: November 01, 2008, 10:50:40 pm »


Octopus to figs

I'll admit that the powerfully alcoholic red Salentine wine played a role in my dancing the pizzica
pizzica, the local version of tarantella, one night in the streets of tiny Serrano.

But the food that went with it at the farmers' fair was just as worthy of celebrating, including
Puglia's staple, orecchiette (ear-shaped pasta), as well as horse meat steaks, ciceri e tria
(handmade tagliatelle with garbanzo beans), fave e cicoria (pureed fava beans and chicory),
cakes spilling over with figs.

Meat, grilled or cured, reigns inland, nowhere more spectacularly than at Cisternino in trulli land.

At night, the absurdly numerous butchers of this whitewashed village set up tiny tables on the
sidewalks and cook to order whatever you select from their marble counters, preceded by mini-
scule black olives, homemade cheeses and salami.

Seafood, including delicacies like octopus and sea urchins, rule the coast in hole-in-the-wall trattorie
like Nonna Tetti in Lecce.

I had a hard time finishing pignata di polpo there, when the whole octopus was brought to me in a clay
pot especially since I had already had mozzarella di bufala, fried vegetables, and linguine with mussels.

I needed similar endurance when gratitude compelled me to start my last dinner in Puglia with a
humble pizza margherita. This must be the only region in Italy where the tomato-and-mozzarella
staple of generations of students and workers still only costs about $2.50.

Puglia is Italy's top olive oil producer, so, for 660 miles. back to northern Italy, I carried a three-
gallon tank of thick olive oil in front of my car seat, sheltering it from the sun that for two weeks
hadn't stopped blazing and that pervades every facet of life here.

I kept thinking about a verse from an Italian poem that was used on an old tourism ad for southern Italy.
Roughly translated, it was something like this:

"No earthly hope can give my heart peace as much

as the certainty of sun that overflows from your sky."

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press.
« Last Edit: November 01, 2008, 11:46:43 pm by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

Your mind understands what you have been taught; your heart what is true.
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