Apulian food is authentic and surprising. With a history dating back to the 7th century, it is made from recipes passed down for hundreds of years. So you are literally getting a taste of a piece of history!
The humble food in Apulia often referred to as “cucina povera” (poor cuisine) is celebrated as one of the best examples of the healthy Mediterranean Diet, UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.Its sunny and windy climate favors the cultivation of valuable raw materials, such as extra virgin olive oil, which gives food that surprising flavor typical of the area, especially fish, vegetables, fresh cheeses and excellent local wine.
Many dishes are prepared with simple products: durum wheat, tomatoes, vegetables, cereals, legumes and others. In the past, they were considered poor dishes, but today they are a treasure of flavor and well-being, capable of conquering the most sophisticated gourmet.
10 must-eat from Apuglia:
1-Focaccia: round, tall or stuffed with tomatoes and olives. Focaccia is the queen of Apulian street food and you can’t miss it. Try it with onions, aubergines, vegetables, meats, cheeses, etc. Warm and crisp, it’s perfect as a main course or snack any time of day.
Not that anyone knows how to make pizza in Apulia, but the focus is more on the focaccia. It is characterized by a slightly higher round dough than the Genovese variety, it is crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. The classic version contains cherry tomatoes, but variations are obviously not lacking. Do not miss the Pucce if you are in Salento and the Paposce if you are in Gargano, cooked pizza loaves stuffed with all kinds of delicacies.
2-Orecchiette.If there’s one item you’ll have in your suitcase on the way home from Apulia, it’s a bag of locally made orecchiette. Literally translated as “little ear” (because of the shape of the pasta), orecchiette originates from Apulia and, of course, there is no better way to try it than freshly prepared.
Orecchiette is so popular and famous in Bari that there is an entire street, known as Orecchiette Street, dedicated to making this pasta. On the street, you’ll find local women, many of whom were taught how to roll this distinctive shape as little girls, sitting down to create piece after piece of pasta at high speed. Usually, less than a thumb in size and indented in the center similar to conchiglie
Whichever small town you visit in Apulia, you will find a restaurant that serves your favorite pasta dish, the orecchiette.
Served simply, with a little olive oil and vegetables that have been cooked in the same pan as the pasta, it’s hard to imagine how such simple flavors can deliver such a strong and delicious taste.
In Bari, try orecchiette with le cime di rape: (Rape tastes similar to broccoli but is more similar in consistency to spinach). The recipe for Orecchiette with le cime di rapa includes garlic cloves, red chili, anchovies, turnip tops and pecorino cheese.
To savor it at its best, it is necessary to visit Apulia in winter, when the turnip tops reach maturity. If you find yourself in Apulia in the summer months, keep in mind that turnip tops are completely out of season, but there will be some wise cook who will have kept reserves in the freezer for the winter.
3- Altamura bread. Altamura, a beautiful town in the center of Puglia, is famous in Italy for its delicious bread. Made with durum wheat flour grown in Altamura, it has a round shape, massive size and is characterized by a 3 mm thick outer crust, which guarantees a long-lasting and smooth crumb, it has a thick, crisp and dark crust.
Altamura has Protected Designation of Origin status, it is only Altamura bread if it is from Altamura and baked to D.O.P. Specifications.
Altamura’s history with bread goes back far beyond its DOP classification.
Bakeries in Altamura were communal and local women brought their own dough to bake. It wasn’t just a functional thing, it was an effective way to create social bonds.
In 2003, Pane di Altamura received PDO status. Among some 1,000 varieties of bread produced in Italy, Altamura Bread is the only one awarded.
4-Friselle from Apulia is a crisp, dry bread baked in a stone oven with a drop of olive oil. It is prepared with durum wheat flour and is cut horizontally in half and then baked until toasted. Friselle is one of the most famous and typical foods of Puglia, it is a fresh, light and a typically summery dish that is eaten so prolifically that it has an almost iconic status. According to local tradition, the Apulian Friselle should be seasoned only with tomato, garlic, oil and salt. They can be kept for many months.
5-Capocollo is one of the most famous cured meats in Puglia. A few years ago it became slow food, a certificate that confirms its absolute quality.
Il capocollo is handcrafted with local pork, using the neck part of the pig. The meat is salted, washed with boiled wine and introduced into the intestine of the pig. Once dry, the smoke comes from the burning of Fragno wood (a typical oak from Valle d’Itria) which gives it the characteristic aroma. Important in the smoking process is the circulation of air that allows it to have a delicate but intense flavor.
Capocollo is served in thin sliced and contains nice lines of fat between the meat. Unlike most salami, capocollo literally disintegrates in your mouth.
6- Tiella. A trip to Puglia would not be complete without trying some local seafood. There is a vast range of seafood dishes available here. Tiella is the region’s most popular seafood dish. This Italian take on the classic Spanish paella is commonly a mixture of rice, potatoes, onions and mussels, baked in the oven.
The word ‘tiella’ comes from the name of the traditional baking pan: a large bowl with a clay bottom.
The presence of tomato, oregano and onion, makes the tiella Barese a colorful and flavor of some recipes of the area and surely one of Apulia’s best foods.
7-Caciocavallo Cheese: It is a kind of mozzarella cheese, it’s tied into a balloon shape with a string around the ‘neck’ and dried, transforming the texture from soft to solid.
The area of Gargano, in the north of Puglia, is known for a variety of cheese called Caciocavallo podolico of Gargano. It is made of milk taken from Podolian cows, a selected kind of cow that produces very little milk just in some periods of the year.
Caciocavallo podolico of Gargano is consumed seasoned. The aging lasts from some months to six years to achieve its unique taste, varying from delicate to strong.
Caciocavallo is the perfect accompaniment to bruschetta, it is famous both for its shape and gentle saltiness – unless it’s aged for a very long time, which renders the cheese significantly more assertive. “Grilled” caciocavallo is excellent.
8-Burrata cheese. It is one of the most popular and renowned fresh cheese of Puglia. Originally a cheese produced by the poor people of the area, burrata is made using fresh cow’s milk and starts out similar to the production of other types of cheese; rennet is used to curdle the warm cow’s milk. The process continues by the addition of fresh mozzarella curds, which are dipped in hot water or whey and then pulled and stretched into shape. A pouch is formed and filled with leftover mozzarella and cream before being sealed.
When you are served this delicious cheese and make the first slice into it, the thickened cream flows out.
Taking that first taste, you will delight in the rich, buttery and milky flavor, and difference in the outer and inner textures. Burrata cheese is tasty enough to be eaten on its own with only a sprinkling of salt and a splash of olive oil, but it can also be served with tomatoes and basil, with salad, or with crusty, fresh bread.
This unique Italian cheese is made from mozzarella and cream and should be consumed within 1-2 days from production. The outer shell is solid mozzarella, while the inside contains both mozzarella and cream. It can be also made with buffalo’s milk which gives it a stronger taste.
9-Extra Virgin Apulia Olive Oil, the foundation of the Mediterranean diet, is used basically in each and every recipe of Apulia, playing a prime role amongst all ingredients. Produced from massive secular olive trees, it gives flavor to typical starters, first and second dishes, side dishes and even desserts.
Apulia has around 60 million olive trees. Among those, 5 million are actually monumental, representing the most antique agricultural arboreal existent landscape. Apulia supplies around 40% of olive oil production in Italy (it is the first region for quantity and quality of Extra Virgin Olive Oil produced per year). The Italian heel also provides around 12% of the olive oil production in the whole world. For thousands of years, the green gold of Puglia so-called thanks to its golden color and its value ensured sustenance generation after generation.
10- Gli agrumi del Gargano. The citrus groves of the Gargano represent the cultural identity of entire communities. Rodí is the town of lemons, Vico and Ischitella are still the town of oranges. Citrus fruits ripen here all year round: at Christmas there are Durette, in April-May the blond oranges (which can be eaten fresh until September). intense and shiny, very thin skin, crunchy pulp and modest but tending to sweet (bittersweet) juice. The Gargano blonde matures between April and May, keeping sweet and juicy on the tree until September. Duretta del Gargano ripens at Christmas, is practically seedless and has a hard and crunchy pulp: Gargano feminello is the oldest lemon variety in Italy and is available in three types. With the citrus fruits of the Gargano the producers prepare excellent jams, candied fruit and limoncelli.
Few areas in Italy produce as many excellent ingredients as Apulia. Its agricultural heritage, cooking traditions and enviable coasts make it the perfect place for great food.
Do you want to recreate Apuglia cuisine at home? You are certainly guaranteed to leave Apulia with a new appreciation for the pleasures of food. And why wait until the next time you can enjoy those local products in your own kitchen? You can find them on aim.store