The beautiful region of Puglia is home to the typical foods of the south with an emphasis on seafood, fresh vegetables, legumes, cheese and olive oil. All the traditions of cucina povera (the cooking of the poor) have been handed down over the centuries and were influenced by the various ruling nations of Puglia’s past. The cuisine may be “poor” but also is extremely rich in imagination and amazing flavors, making the area a favorite of foodies.
The freshest and most typical ingredients of Puglia are made up of wheat, tomato, olive oil and wine. The region abounds in homemade pasta made by locals. Olive oil is used in all the Apulian cuisine. Wine accompanies each good meal, which typically consists of a first course of pasta with fish or vegetables, a second course of meat or fish served with a side dish, usually vegetables, and lastly, fruit.
The pasta from Puglia is made without eggs as they were once considered to be a luxury. The most famous pasta made in Puglia is orecchiette (little ears) which is still made daily by women in most of the small villages. It’s the omnipresent dish of the region, appearing on menus with various sauces, including tomato, but the most typical pairing is with cime di rapa (turnip tops/broccoli rabe), a leafy green vegetable with a slightly bitter flavor.
Seafood deserve a special mention — all types of humble fish, anchovies, mussels, sea urchins, calamari are abundant in the region. Raw fish marinated in lemon is widely eaten in Puglia, and Bari, the largest and most important city, is considered the Italian capital of this type of cuisine.
Burrata is the most famous cheese from Puglia and it’s a foodie highlight. It’s a fresh cheese similar to mozzarella but with a gooey, creamy inside that oozes out when you cut into it. It’s rich and milky and needs nothing but some local bread and perhaps a drizzle of olive oil to accompany it.
Although southern Italy is famous for its seafood cuisine, you can also taste delicious red meat. One curious regional thing is eating at the butcher shop (la macelleria). In the evening, some butcher shops become informal places to taste their wares when various sausages and cuts of meat are cooked alla griglia.
If you love delicious food, sunshine, lovely people and beautiful coastlines, perhaps Puglia needs to be seriously considered for your next visit to Italy.