The best way to get over Sweden is not go back to London, it’s to continue travelling. So this is what I did. The Italian is from Puglia and wanted to show me burrata, beaches and Bari. How could I say no?
Madonna, one thing I learnt about Italians and their way of eating is that if you don’t get to a piece of meat before them, it’s all gone. Italians having long lunches, marathon dinners, slow food movement? More like “Gone in 60 seconds”. They finish eating, then they spend the rest of the time talking what to have for the next meal. Or what they had yesterday. And that’s what takes time.
And I of course love this.
Look at the first photo above. This is what the Italian’s Mamma put in front of me one afternoon. I wasn’t particularly hungry, but I wouldn’t say no to freselli (resembling Swedish crisprolls but soaked in water to give a lovely moist texture) with basil, olive oil and tomatoes. So simple, so delicious.
Puglia is indeed about the love of food and I had plenty of chances to experience this passion. This is the true Mediterranean cuisine, which is suppose to be one of the healthiest around. I still don’t understand how eating pastries in the mornings can qualify as wholesome, but fair enough, at least it’s a first moment of indulgence. I do understand the rest of the concept however. Sweet lemons, homemade pasta, fish so fresh you can eat it raw and olive oil that completely changes the flavour of whatever you cook.
One day at the beach we went to a family-owned shack, who served seafood so fresh it was almost still moving. Mussels, sea urchins, clams – you name it, they had it. Even lobster. And don’t think for a bit that it was expensive. €13 for pasta and lobster? You could order two!
I could hear the voice of my grandma worrying about getting ill from uncooked seafood, but I pushed those voices aside. Instead I ate even more raw sea food at night.
At the most romantic restaurant in Polignano a Mare, we dined in a lit-up cave that looked out at sea. Having come straight from light nights in Sweden the darkness was absolutely striking, and you could hardly separate sea from sky.
The seafood platter above is for one person. Or maybe it was for two, but the Italian finished it all by himself. I went for tuna tartar, sea bass tartar and prawns for starters and fish soup for mains. We were pretty chuffed with our night, that’s all I can say without getting hyperbolic.
Next day we went to the beach. And frankly, if I wouldn’t be committed to my work, I’d still be lying there.
Puglia has plenty more to eat, not the least handmade orechiette, more burrata and gelati, so in my mind I’m already eating my next lunch there – right on the beach.