The land of Brindisi expresses through the peculiarity of the gastronomy its real identity and its most authentic features of Mediterranean place. The gastronomy of Brindisi substantially simple, is characterized by an ideal of frugality that doesn’t scorn however the noblest products and the most refined elaborations. Here, every dish is a fragment of history and civilization, an identity element for those who live in these lands.
The table of Brindisi connects the exciting smells of the Adriatic sea abounding in fish with the more rustic tastes of the land, showing on the table, quite specularly, the double soul of the people grown on the sea and deeply rooted to the fertile humus of its country. Giltheads, brasses, groupers, mullets, superb sea crayfish make a fine showing of themselves in the numerous fish-shops on the squares of the market, ready to throw into ecstasy the most demanding palates, but to intrigue the most greedy people is the task of the less aristocratic squids, cuttlefish, sardines, little polyps and little anchovies.
Among these sea-products, the most important of all is the mixture called “ciambotto” that the clever skill of the cooks or of the simple housewives transform in the glorious soup of fish of Brindisi that competes for the supremacy with the well-known soup of Gallipoli, becoming object of a secular conflict among the connoisseurs of Salento.
And what about the “fragaglie”, small fish in boiling oil, once speciality of the numerous cellars of the ancient villages? And about the sea urchins whose triumphs were celebrated at Savelletri, near the ruins of Egnatia?
Taste of sea also in the tasty first course: from spaghetti or “cavatelli” with seafood, to “tiella” of rise, potatoes and mussels. This last speciality is heritage of the spanish presence in Apulia, but while the Iberian “paella” modulates on a variety of ingredients and tastes, our “tiella” is sublime in the unvarying taste of the mussels, known as the black mussels, real pillar of the seafaring cookery in its countless variations: “arracanate”, pickled, fried, in omelet…
Coming back to the first dishes, the “orecchiette” open the long catalogue of pasta made at home: with the ragout, the turnip tops, and in the most strong version with “ricotta forte”. The gastronomic knowledge expresses itself also in the preparation, strictly by hand of “sagne, lagane, strascinate, cavatelli” and in the creative gift of making superlative seasonings with the use of poor raw materials.
The pasta with “muddica”, crumbs of stale bread fried in oil, and “Iugranu stumpatu” are preparations of real “gastronomic archeology” that nowadays the modern catering industry rediscovers and elevates to high dignity. “Fave” and chicory are a real whim for the gourmet: the peasant-dish par excellence that the most rigorous people advise to cook in the traditional “pignata” with rain-water and strictly on the wood fire.
The fertile land of Brindisi assures excellent vegetables and legumes that with the most rural tastes of the spontaneous herbs, are prepared in different ways, a real mosaic of recipes whose wedges join in the unmistakable and extraordinary taste of the olive oil.
From the thick wood of the secular olive trees arises and esteemed seasoning: the extravergine oil – for whose discovery it’s possible to follow the lay-out of the “olive street” capable of exalting one of the poorest dish, as the “frisella”, toasted ring-shaped cake made of corn and barley, that a tomato, a drop of oil, a pinch of origanum and salt transform in the most important dish of a lot of summer-dinners with a typical mediterranean taste.
A place of honor among the esteemed products of Brindisi concerns the cheese industry; the itinerary of the white food discovers “mozzarelle, scamorze, cacicavalli, burrate, stracciatelle, giuncatelle” which have a fresh and light taste and of “pecorino” which has a stronger taste. In the menu of Brindisi there are also excellent meat food whose peculiarities are found in the cooking of the taverns: the stewed horse-meat chops with “pecorino” and celery, and the roulades of tripe cooked in a spicy broth.
The white alleys of the small towns of the Murgia of Brindisi at nightfall give out the irresistible sweet smell of the meat cooked on the stoves that every butcher’s shop has: “gnummaredd”, tender kid, tasty sausages cooked on the spit, throw into ecstasy the palates of merry groups. The confectionary of Brindisi has the smell of the country and a home-made taste and it’s the almond tree, a very widespread tree in this area, that offers its caloric food to “ricci, copete, ritaglie”, lamb-shaped and dove-shaped Easter cakes.
The list of the sweets go on with “mostaccioli, grafioli, bocche di dama, real sins of gluttonery whose recipes are often heritage of ancient monasteries, sweets to which the votive spirit of the people of Brindisi assign, in some cases, the names borrowed from the Holy World: Saint Lucia’s eyes, the Apostles’ fingers. The most typical delicacies in the land of Brindisi obey to the festivity ritual: at Christmas there are the “pettole, purcedduzzi and ncartiddate” enveloped in honey or drowned in cooked-wine, that send out from house to house their sweet smells and renew the threads of memory.
In an area with a strong wine culture bent and with an administrative center that has given the name to that ancient ritual of good wishes, “il brindisi” (the toast), wine is a nectar with a stirring taste, a product of extraordinary history and qualitative value; to discover it, it’s sufficient to go through the wine street, a long lay-out that displays with tastings and samplings, the best of the local oenological production.
Where to stay in Brindisi
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