In May, I had the very good fortune of traveling to Puglia with my mom and my fellow food-obsessed best friend. Puglia was sunwashed and arid, lined by a sea that changed from transparent to turquoise to deep azure. The buildings were cream and white and turned gold with the afternoon sun. Bougainvillea and jasmine ran unchecked up walls and dangled into walkways. Olive trees grew everywhere and wildflowers lined the roads. I wanted to float away in a dry rosé haze and never return.
Yet for all this impossible beauty, it was the food that got under my skin. Pugliesi eat well. Olives appear at lunch, aperitivi, and dinner. Olive oil is top notch and is drizzled over perfect summer tomatoes, crudités, and orechiette pasta, and mixed into the oh-so-addictive taralli crackers. Pugliesi invented burrata. Produce–squash blossoms, cherries, tomatoes, broccoli rabe–is cheap and plentiful. The wild boar secondi of northern Italy are replaced by fresh fish, octopus, squid, and urchins. The rosés, from negroamaro grapes, are bright and fresh. I could go on. Continue reading “Squash blossom strozzapreti”