The southern Italian region Puglia that forms the heel of the Italian “boot” is the perfect example of how the history of a place shapes its food. In fact, in the past, Puglia was known as the “bread basket of Italy”. This can be traced back to its poverty in the past and its many farmers who produce durum wheat. This has resulted in Puglia being the home of Italy’s most famous Pasta dishes and breads. But Italian food is so much more than just pizza and pasta.
7 of the best foods to try in Puglia
OrecchietteOkay, let us start with Pasta, shall we? Orecciette are the symbol of fresh pasta in Puglia and literally means “small ears” in Italian. The ear-shaped pasta usually comes with broccoli rabe and garlic or with fresh tomatoes and ricotta cheese. The best thing: In Bari – which is especially famous for Orechiette – people even hand-roll pasta out on the street which means you might be able to even experience the food making process.
A panzerotto is the perfect example for a delicious Apulian speciality that is based on simple ingredients. It is a type of ravioli made from pizza dough and looks like a crescent-shaped turnover. It is deep-fried and can be filled with various ingredients such as ricotta (or mozzarella), tomato sauce and ham. There are many interpretations of the traditional dish like fillings with spinach, aubergines, courgettes and even tuna which makes it the perfect snack for everyone.
Attention, meat lovers. This one is for you. Bombette can mainly be found in Alberobello which is famous for its Trulli, the traditional Apulian dry stone huts with conical roofs. Stroll around in the beautiful streets and grab a Bombette di Alberobello afterwards. It is a crispy and juicy roll made of pork meat and filled with a small piece of caciocavallo cheese (strong aged cow’s milk cheese), salami, salt, pepper and parsley. They are usually served roast or chargrilled and there are many different variations of bombette. They originated from the fact that the Pugliese couldn’t afford to eat meat in the past, so they created this delicious meat snack with any scraps of meat they could find, not knowing that their poverty created an incredible delicacy.
This is for those with a sweet tooth. Pasticciotto are small tarts which are consisting of creamy vanilla custard cradled in buttery shortcrust pastry. However, the treat often comes with other innovative fillings. Pasticciotto are originally from Salento but nowadays you can find them all over Puglia. If you want to have the most authentic food experience, you should try them in Salento. The best time to eat them is for breakfast. They are baked in the oven and usually served warm and go perfect with a cup of cappuccino. Warning: These get very addictive and you might need to learn to make them yourself in order to also enjoy them in your home country.
Puccia is a round type of Panini made of pizza dough that is often sliced down in the middle and stuffed with meat, veggies and cheese. It is the perfect on-the-go snack in Puglia for when you’re too busy heading to the next food spot. Across the city of Lecce it sometimes is the only type of sandwich you will find in sandwich shops.
Foraccia barese is another popular street food that is similar to pizza, in fact it’s even described as the Puglian version of a pizza. It’s a thick doughy bread topped or filled with a number of different toppings like tomato, olives and capers, peppers, salami, mozzarella and many more. Doesn’t matter which toppings and fillings you like best, you will find them here.
Tiella is basically the Puglian definition of the Spanish Paella and a cross between Paella and potato gratin which can mainly be found in the Bari area. It is a mix of rice, potatoes, mussels, pecorino (hard cheese) or carioricotta cheese and sometimes also some crunchy breadcrumbs. The name ‘tiella’ refers both to the cooking vessel and the dish you cook it in. The ‘tiella’ is typically made of terracotta which gives the casserole as somehow special flavour that no other material can mimic.