As one of the more agricultural regions of Italy, Puglia is often overlooked when it comes to a vacation, but it shouldn’t be… especially for the culinary traveler. With a cuisine influenced by the likes of the French, Greek, Spanish, and Arabic, and simple but flavorful dishes packed with ingredients like chickpeas, olives, seafood, herbs, spices, fava beans, and beef, there’s something for everyone to enjoy here.
A walk down one of Puglia’s city streets — particularly in Bari — also showcases this region’s love of rustic cuisine too. In addition to the variety of cafes, bakeries, butchers, and specialty food shops, you’ll find a good share of food vendors in both the city’s main piazzas as well as on the beaches. We’re not just talking about watching the local women hand roll pasta right there in the street either. Or the local farmers at the market who sell items like sea urchins and ingredients like chestnuts.
Many of the street vendors too sell things that they make right in front of you, or are ready to be eaten right after they heat it up! You can start your day with one of the most popular street food items in all of Puglia: pasticciotto. The custard pie originates in Lecce, but can be found throughout the region, and it pairs wonderfully with a cappuccino.
Learn to make pasticciotti:
Moving on to lunch and dinner, there’s plenty to choose from, especially when it comes to different takes on a calzone. Pizzettes are, as the name implies, mini pizzas traditionally topped with cherry tomatoes. Il Rustico — one of the most popular of Pugliese street foods — are puffed pastries filled with toppings normally found on a pizza. Or a puccia, which some consider a stuffed pizza, while others describe it as more of a sandwich with fillings like mozzarella, tomato, and meats. Another fabulous option: scagliuozzi, which is fried polenta. All of this is in addition to, of course, the fabulous meals you’ll find at sit down restaurants too.
Explore the local culture and cuisine with one of our Puglia cooking vacations.
Try a recipe for Pugliese brodetto di pesce con spaghetti spezzati.
By Liz Hall
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