August is always a busy month. I am usually in Orsara di Puglia for at least half of it, and there is a lot of activity in my kitchen. Here are just a few of the things my family and I were up to in our tiny but functional summer kitchen in Puglia.
Starting with the space itself, the whole casa is 40m² (about 450 square feet) including a bedroom and bathroom. The room with the cucina is also the living room, guest room (aka my room) and art studio. The highlight of the room is the barrel vaulted stone ceiling. It is hard to get a photo of the whole thing, but this one gives you an idea what it looks like. Amazing, isn’t it?
August 5th is a feast day in Orsara. It is la festa della Madonna della Neve which you can read about here. My parents and I invited 7 family members over for pranzo, the 1pm meal. Luckily we have a total of 10 chairs!
I had recently bought a spianatoia, although I only knew what is was called in dialetto. It is a pasta rolling board with a lip on one end so it stays put on the table. This one also has a handy carrying handle. Mamma and I decided to make orecchiette and cavatelli, even though both of us were out of practice. These are the most typical pasta shapes found in Puglia. They was served with sugo made with braciole which are thin cuts of meat rolled with prosciutto, parmigiano, parsley and garlic.
There are no fancy appliances in this kitchen. I was given a bouquet of basilico and garlic from a friend’s garden and we made pesto ‘old school’ with her ancient and very heavy stone mortaio-mortar.
Vino is plentiful in Puglia. Nero di Troia is a nice, full-bodied local wine. Read more about it in Vini di Puglia, the first of a 3 part blog series. It is available at the grocery store in a 3L plastic container for less than €6! It is very good! We bring it home and Papà transfers it to 4 750ml glass bottles. Sure, you can spend more money, but even the inexpensive vino is good. I love to drink pesche in vino -peaches in wine with pranzo. Yum! In summer red wine is often served chilled.
The cheese products in Puglia and Campania are drool-worthy! Orsara has its own DOP cheese called cacioricotta, a goat cheese, but it never stays around long enough to be photographed! Here is a lovely white on white trio of burrata, ricotta and mozzarella di bufala.
Fiori di zucca are one of my favourite summer foods. Luckily they are readily available here. These ones were grown by a friend. They are stuffed with caciocavallo and basilico, ready to be baked or grilled. More recipe and harvesting tips can be found in the post Fiori di zucca. I grow them in my garden in Vancouver as well, but they are not that plentiful.
Cucina povera, literally ‘food of the poor’, is what you will find in Puglia. Simple foods made with fresh local ingredients. My favourite comfort food, very typical of Orsara di Puglia is pancotto e patate. It is made with stale bread, boiled potatoes, oil and garlic. Beans and rucola or other greens can also be added. I will have to write a post on how to make it!I took the train down to Lecce and Nardò for a few days and found this cute ceramic gratta aglio, a garlic grater. Of course the peperoncini attracted me! I hope this post has made you either hungry and drooling or wishing you could visit Puglia yourself. Maybe it has done both? Buon appetito e buon viaggio, CristinaThanks Sherry from Australia for hosting the monthly food blogging event, In My Kitchen (IMK). Read about other world kitchens by clicking the link to Sherry’s Pickings . Buon appetito, Cristina