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Lu Stufatu (Sexy, Sexy Stewed Vegetables)

Like many of the more wily concepts in life - lu stufatu is one of those things that is almost impossible to pin down, empirically: You can just bet your boots that you'll know it when you see it....

The Sculpture Garden in Lecce, Italy: The Work of Eugenio Maccagnani

On our free morning at our tiny cooking school in here in Lecce, Italy, just after the guided tour of the city, but before we make fresh sausages from scratch in the afternoon, most folks spend their free time here, in the park or sculpture garden, a somber green oasis in the centre of our beautiful blond, stone city. I say ‘the...

Salice Salentino

So, slowly, I started asking students what they saw as we passed the countless vineyards of Puglia, following my own beliefs that you can’t understand Italian wine until you understand the label and you can’t understand the label until you understand what actually happens in the fields. ‘Well, they look like vines’, they’d say, ‘Brown and gnarly’. ‘But how are...

Gelato di Albicocche

I’m told that I have something of an obsessive personality, although I really prefer the adjective, ‘enthusiastic’. Take summer dishes: This year I’m only really eating three dishes, and all three of them nearly everyday. The only one that is not part of my normal summer repertoire is this new, lightened form of apricot gelato that I recently came up with...

Santa Cesarea

I recently rode my bicycle to Santa Cesarea Terme, a stunningly beautiful village on the Adriatic coast, about 50 kilometres south-east of my home in Lecce. Unpacking my bags from the bike in order to check into a small family-run pensione, I called out across the street to a man setting up a few outdoor tables, 'One for dinner, chill...

Tormaresca

‘But what do you REALLY eat? What do you REALLY drink when you’re not teaching’, is a question I’m asked nearly every week. Most of the time the answer is boring: The same stuff I eat and drink during our classes, that is, la cucina tipica salentina. And it’s mostly true too. But every so often I’ll give myself a little slack...

La Passata Del Mezzogiorno (Tomato Sauce, Salento-Style)

Come late summer in these parts, you still see older folks gathering in small groups out in the countryside. Someone will have an old radio on, set to some station where all the music was recorded back when full, lush symphonies were all the rage. An old stew pot will be bubbling away on a nearly-forgotten flame. Water for the pasta will...

La Cotognata (Quince Paste, Salento-Style)

Come autumn time here in the Salento, a number of fruits and vegetables start to turn up in the markets, just like old cherished friends that have moved away but then came back again. Faces light up. There is lots of smiling, happy greetings. ‘We’ll have to have you around for dinner, now that you’re back and all’, folks seem to say,...

Il Vincotto

Today started with a sloppy banging sound on the school’s library window. It was supposed to be a knock, but the person out in the street was clearly using more the palm versus knuckles. I recognised her hand immediately. It was Annalisa, panicky over the huge quantity of grape must beginning to ferment in the back of her car. ‘Hurry and...

the law and how to live with it: palermo to alcamo

  I had noticed that the helicopter marked Polizia was flying low, and that I was zooming pretty fast. I’d also noticed that traffic was honking at me, in ways they usually don’t. Then there was a police car behind me. And another. Then one in front of me. There were sirens and before I knew it, I was on the...