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The Awaiting Table / Cucina Pugliese  / Antipasti  / fae e cicureddhe (fave e cicoria: broad beans and chicory)

fae e cicureddhe (fave e cicoria: broad beans and chicory)

‘OK, Angela, tell me how you make this dish’, I say as we walk Lecce’s market together, her cheeks plummy from the recent cold.

‘OK. First you select a perfect chicory, this one is a real looker’, she says. She tucks the vegetable beneath her arm as though it were her briefcase.


Back at my place we strike wooden matches to light the flames under the large pots and she goes to work cleaning the chicory.


‘So what’s so special about chicory’, I ask her.


‘Well, first, they are very beautiful’, she says, her expression that of a young mother. ‘It might be the world’s most perfect vegetable. Healthy. Inexpensive. Hearty. Their flavour is rich and satisfying, complex. They feed the inner you as well’.


I slip some broad beans into a pot of water: they splash as they go in, leaving droplets of cold water across both of our faces. She laughs.


The cat in the school’s garden rounds the flower pots and sits to watch Angela as she works her knife through the leaves. His eyes start to ever……so….slowly….shut, rhythmically, as if they are some how mirroring his slowing pulse.


I pour another cup of tea from red kettle and warm my hands on the sides of the mug, the mug up to my chin.

I settle in for one of life’s most beautiful moments: watching a woman that I really like eating something that she really loves. If there are more beguiling moments between humans, I can’t think of one right now.

And while I’ve certainly made the dish hundreds of times, watching her eat in perfect silence, her spoon to mouth, plate to lap, the dish won’t ever, ever be the same for me…… not after today.

Not even close.


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Silvestro Silvestori
Sommelier / Owner / Director of The Awaiting Table Cookery School, Lecce, Italy

Silvestro Silvestori, the owner, founder and director of The Awaiting Table Cookery School, Lecce, Italy has been teaching the food and wine of Puglia and particular- Italy’s Salentine peninsula since 2003. In addition to his knowledge of Pugliese food and culture, Silvestro is a nationally-certified sommelier in Italy, and a staff writer for Wine & Spirits magazine, covering all their Southern Italian food and wine content. He has also appeared on American, Australian, Belgian, British, Chinese, Dutch and Italian television, and Italy’s most respected newspaper called him, ‘A national treasure’, and ‘THE anthropologist of the traditional cuisine of the Salento’ for his work in preservation and promotion of Salentine’s food and wine.