If you're lucky enough to have a friend from Puglia in the South of Italy, every so often they will bring you special treats from their home region. My friend from Puglia
loves talking about the land of her childhood, the sea, the sunshine, the olive trees, the fresh fish and all the local specialities.
Her eyes light up as she reels off recipe after recipe, stuffed aubergines, stuffed artichokes, pasta tossed in ragù and then mixed with mozzarella and baked in the oven, fresh fish caught in the turquoise sea near Otranto.
Her favourite recipe though is Orecchiette con cime di rape.This is pasta shaped like little ears with something similar to broccoli spears with anchovies and garlice and toasted breadcrumbs.
My friend's grandmother made orecchiette every Sunday until she was over one hundred years old. As the grandmother made them no-one else bothered Learning. My friend missed this dish so much that she found a video on the internet and now she can make them too.
After an hour of recipes from Puglia it was my turn.
She asked me what special English food I cooked, her expression rather doubtful. Immediately I said Roast beef. She looked puzzled, she remarked that she makes that too. I tried to put more passion in my response to match hers.
I told her that it is wonderful to walk indoors after a walk in the countryside and smell a roast cooking in the oven. There will be lots of roast potatoes, peas, carrots, maybe cauliflower in white sauce, Yorkshire pudding, horseradish sauce, gravy, and then to follow an apple pie or blackberry pie or a trifle or a choice of all three. She looked a bit more interested, but she told me that she'd make me her special orecchiette.
This evening we had the special mozzarella from Puglia with tomatoes called 'Marinda'. They are a special variety that only grow in Winter. Then Pugliese bread, olive oil and small olives. Summer comes to the table in the middle of Winter bringing with it the beauty of Puglia.
|Olive trees in Puglia can be hundreds of years old|
|Summer in the middle of Winter. The sea in Puglia looks like The Maldives|