Two days after handing in my Master’s thesis, I was sleeping on the floor in Stanstead airport, waiting for my flight to Brindisi, Italy. I was going to spend the next two weeks speed travelling around Italy.
First stop was to Puglia down in the heel south Italy. People travel to Puglia for a chance to see a snapshot of rustic Italy. I went to Puglia for the food. Puglian food is best represented as cucina povera, otherwise known as peasant food (or the kitchen of the poor, although that sounds ever so slightly entitled!). Their food is straight from the soil to the pot, a fact you can taste in every bite!
Most days we lunched at home; it was so easy (and so cheap!) to eat light, healthy meals here especially when compared to the UK. A typical lunch featured a large mixed salad, and chickpeas and cannoli beans with fresh lemon juice. Freshly made focaccia with sun-dried tomatoes or sometimes we’d share a packet of frise de grano, a local delicacy. Of course, Lucy-La Lingua would never forgive me if I forgot to mention the stracciatella, burrata’s sexy-yet-sloppy cousin! I wish I could eat like this every day!
Otherwise, we would venture out to try the local restaurants around Racale. As we were in Italy, we had to try the pizza! I tried two pizzerias in Puglia, Bella Napoli in Racale and this little place we wandered into in Alberobello, which I unfortunately forgot to check the name of. I was too hungry! The pizza in Alberobello had a fluffy crust, a thin, crispy base and drizzled with olive oil similar those found in Naples (which is considered by many to be the king of pizzas!). In Bella Napoli on the other hand, the crust was the same height as the base which made for a crispier pizza. The main selling point in Bella Napoli is their metre-long pizzas, which can be made up of four different pizza toppings (limiting the arguments about who wants what!).
As a vegan, I was a little worried about going to Italy, the land of cheese, meats, and egg pasta. I needn’t have worried. Every pizza was made fresh on site, so it was so easy to ask for it without cheese, there was a wide variety of pasta’s, and veganism is more obviously catered for. Wandering through the streets, there were restaurants and cafes which advertised vegan-friendly foods. There were other restaurants and cafes who catered for vegans but in a far more discrete way. For example, the beautiful patisserie Murrieri in Racale. They bake fresh pasticiotti, a local custard-filled sponge, as well as gelato, or pastries. I had resigned to just grab a coffee and maybe some fruit later on when Lucy came back with news of a vegan croissant. I nearly tripped over my chair in a rush to the counter!
On our last night, we went for a meal out to Il Giardino Segreto, a vegan-friendly restaurant with a tree growing in the centre of outside seating area. They also had this adorable one-eyed cat purring between and around tables! The only downside, in my opinion, was the lack of salt and pepper on the tables. I had this delicious houmous style dip made with cannelloni beans on a bed of green vegetables. Although delicious, I wanted to sprinkle a little pepper on top, but without insulting the chief! Their flavours were delicate and the food was ultimately delicious. For dessert, I had slices of this great vegan tiffin with chocolate sprinkles. Yumyumyum.
All pictures are either mine or Lucy’s. Speaking of, if you want to read a blog with a more concise layout I would definitely recommend her blog la-linga.co.uk!