Being Apulian means having a cyclone of smells and sounds and lights inside. There is no land richer and more complex than ours, we have in our blood the olive and the oak, the wheat, the tufa and the sea breeze, the music of the East and the Spanish. French and peasant poetry. Being Apulian also means and above all know the deep emotions that food can give you. Emotions that bind the smell of fresh basil to the memory of our grandfather Pietro who collects it in the garden, the scent of homemade almond milk with the wrinkles of the hands of a woman who removes the skins with care, the taste of capers the effort that is made to collect them one by one, combined with the beauty of their flower to be admired, however, so beautiful and impalpable. One of our favorites. The food here is almost always comfort, because food in Puglia is welcome, it is shelter, it is party and work, it is meatballs of bread and aubergine parmigiana.
So how do you say comfort food in Apulian language? It is called orecchietta. Precisely orecchiette, lamb and autumn, masterful plate of the chef Maria Cicorella of the Pashà restaurant in Conversano, which interprets the most welcoming season of the year with its inspiration exactly halfway between the gourmet genius and the Apulian mother. His orecchiette, made by her, by hand, are rough and full-bodied, sensual. They welcome the lamb, cooked in the pignata (typical kitchen utensil, in terracotta) inside the wood oven, together with the pumpkin, the artichoke, the mushroom, the fondue of Caciocavallo podolico and finally the black truffle of the Murgia, the poetry . The most exciting dish we've tasted in the last few years. Heart-pounding. It is called spaghettone. Spaghettone with eggs of hens that grow free on the ground, happy in a masseria in Valle d'Itria, pepper, salt, cheese and Capocollo of Crispy Martina Franca. In practice, a carbonara. In practice, a whole other story. A Carbonara spaghettone that smells incredibly of Puglia and has the unmistakable flavor of the territory of the trulli. In this case the art and the hands belong to the cook Benedetta Patronelli from Locotorondo, from Bina ristorante.
And comfort is said beans. The poorest and most Apulian dish there is, the one that has always replaced the meat of the rich in the peasant diet, today made noble by the soft and soft processing of the legume overcooked with potatoes, and elegant served with the mussel, symbol sincere of the bond that this land has with the two seas from which it is caressed. To close the cuddle, a couple of croutons of bread from Altamura, strictly fried. And this cuddle is silently prepared with deep love and boundless mastery by the one that has always been the owner of our favorite restaurant: mom.
Being Apulian means accepting the fact that food is more than food, and love it for that. The food is dialect, accent, idioms. Food is the time that passes, the years that fly, the love that remains. It is also comfort. And it's beautiful.