Silvestro Salento

eating the calendar: our tomato sauce, last year, this year and the next‘E mo’ si balla belle mie‘, I say to the last three remaining bottles of tomato sauce in the back recesses of the storage shelves, ‘It’s time to dance, my beauties’.  I crack the seal on one of them and the castle kitchen fills with the tangy, saline blood-smell of tomatoes. But not just ‘tomatoes’, […]Read more
lu ranu stumpatu al vincotto (wheat berries with reduced grape must)Hemingway is often credited with the phrase, Dessert is for those that don’t drink enough. Whether he said it or not, it’s something that often saunters through my head when my eyes pass over the ‘dolci’ section of a dinner menù, the same way they do when I pass a women’s shoe store or a […]Read more
la capunata (detto ‘la cialda pugliese): a barley-bread based saladTry it sometime. Next time folks ask what you do for a living, tell them that you run a cooking school in Italy. They’ll be instantly at ease and more than pleasantly surprised, eager to talk about recipes, their favourite restaurants and wines that they’ve had recently. Complete strangers will open up, the conversation as […]Read more
i vini dolci pugliesi: the sweet wines of pugliaMy mouth water continued to water, but I couldn't seem to swallow fast enough. I looked over at Annarita, who had already bitten through her bottom lip and seemed content on swallowing her own chin. 'If the next speaker says anything other than, 'Mo' ragà, si scende!' ('Alright boys, let's head down') I'm going to kill him with my thumb', she said, her eyes scanning over the shoulders up to the podium, calculating, I think, how long she'd have before they'd pull her off. Read more
paternoster: new world, old world and where you find yourself  It couldn’t be prettier, this mountain. For the longest time you half expect Heidi and her grandfather and oxen to cross the road in a straw-covered wagon. It’s that pretty, that storybook-like, so completely untouched by man. The only way to know which millennium you’re in as that every so often you pass what […]Read more
il polpettone e come mai lo insegno: meat loaf and why i teach it  At the school we serve rabbit, at least once a week. We serve bitter weeds, once caked with red mud. We serve cheeses that could revive dazed boxers. We serve actual flower bulbs, boiled in vinegar and then put up in jars. We serve squiggly little things that live between shells at the bottom […]Read more
le pignate: earthenware pots, salento-styleIs it ‘irony’? If not, what else would you call it? How else would you explain this disparity, the perception of the Mediterranean basin as the cradle of simple, fresh, quickly-prepared foods, when, for the last 12,000 years or so it’s to the long-simmered brown foods that nearly all of us owe our existence? Vessels […]Read more
in difesa del rosato: in defense of pink wineI can’t think of any other wine that represents such a polemic. Can you? You can almost predict what folks will think and say about it, just by reading their bank statements or passport stamps, assuming that they’d let you read those sorts of things. But I think there are really only four true stances […]Read more
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