I live in Italy, so that shouldn’t seem so rare, right? But two of the three elements were pretty rare: 35 days of uninterrupted Italian food was one. I’m lucky enough to live in Milan where there’s plenty of ethnic food, and of course there’s my kitchen, too, so it’s rare I’m eating 100% Italian food all-day, every day.
I’m going to be posting a few of my favorite recipes which are ridiculously simple in both ingredients and preparation, and are often those which are the most loved. That’s the biggest lesson I’ve learned from living in Italy: good food doesn’t have to be complicated or made with fancy ingredients. Some of my favorite dishes are those made with relatively few ingredients.
The other rare element for me was family. For the first time in forever some of my (US) family flew over to see more of Italy with me. Rather than a few stolen moments squeezed over a holiday or in between their work schedules when I visit the US, I worked most of the time while they explored but it was great to have a quick breakfast or gelato together, share meal times, and of course go places on weekends and some time off as well.
Panzerotti, of which I am a big fan, are plentiful in Puglia. The traditional panzerotti are fried pockets of dough and come filled with mozzarella and tomato sauce, but sometimes they come in other flavors, too – like filled with Nutella!
I’ve made panzerotti before at home, and I don’t always enjoy it, mainly because of how delicate cooking with hot oil is. These weren’t made by me, but were very delicious!
Orecchiette are the local pasta shape, and you can do almost any pasta sauce with them. These farina di grano arso, toasted wheat, orecchiette, are not easy to find, so definitely give them a try if you come across them.
Just the essentials in Puglia…pane, pizza, and orecchiette.
I love cozze, mussels. Love them. I eat lots of pepata di cozze, peppered & steamed mussels (click on the for my recipe) when I’m in Puglia, and when the bread is toasted and drizzled with olive oil it makes this simple dish a treat.
Visiting some historic monuments, outside the Santuario di San Michele Arcangelo in Monte Sant’Angelo.
Pasticcini, little pastries, are common in Italy after special meals, often on a Sunday if guests are coming over. Most pasticcini don’t drive me crazy, but from this tray I definitely snagged some cassatine (those green-glazed ones, little Sicilian pastries filled with sponge cake and chocolate-studded ricotta) and sospiri (the white-glazed ones, with sponge cake and cream) from the bunch.
My accountant took us out for coffee after a meeting, and some little krapfen (or mini bomboloni, little donuts filled with cream) magically appeared with our coffee.
I think stripping origano, oregano, from its leaves may be my new favorite busywork to do with a movie in the background. The mini iPad means I can take it out on the balcony.
Of course there’s always aperitivo to be found – this one went above and beyond, though I prefer a little mozzarella to the little ricottine.
I love the impromptu sidewalk sales you can find everywhere.
When I buy a mozzarella di bufala, mozzarella made with buffalo’s milk, I like to make sure I meet him first and look him in the eye.
At first I wasn’t a big fan of the Italian lido, or private beach, with umbrellas and chairs when compared to the wide-open spaces of California beaches, but I’ve definitely come around. The ombrelloni (umbrellas) and the lettini (beds) mean you can easily spend the entire day at the beach, but not necessarily in the sun, and having a bar nearby to get an ice cream or a cool drink takes some of the stress out of days at the beach.
Looking up in the sky means you can see some kites walk by.
I love the very colorful ombrelloni, the more colorful, the better. This was one of my favorites.
A last look at one of the beaches in Puglia. Ciao spiaggia!
If you spent 35 days in southern Italy, which of these elements would you be focused on? Fun, family, or Italian food? Or all three?