There are four things that you cannot miss when visiting Salento. I think about them every time we get close to a trip to our hometowns. I try organizing my days based on what I want to eat when.
You have to start with the Pasticciotto, sweet pastry filled with custard and cooked in oven. You have to eat it hot in order to enjoy its flavor at the most. For many people it replaces the classic croissant at breakfast, however you can have it also after lunch. They say that it was born by mistake in 1745 in a pastry shop named Pasticceria Ascalone (still open these days) in Galatina, during the festivity of Saint Paul, the healer of the “tarantate” (we’ll cove the topic of the pizzica and of the night of tarantula another time).
At lunch time, I like to have a couple of Frise. The frisa is a durum wheat or barley hard bread. You eat the frisa by soaking it in cold water and then you dress with fresh cherry tomatoes, oregano, salt and extra virgin olive oil. In the past, here in Puglia, they used to soak directly in the sea water and dress them with only the juice of squeezed tomatoes.
The afternoons are instead the ideal time for a snack with the Rustico, a key element of the traditional local street food. You can find it in every bakery, bar or rotisserie. It’s made of puff pastry, filled with mozzarella cheese, bechamel and tomato. A real pleasant experience with its melted mozzarella.
My day ends with the Pucce while having dinner. They are little pieces if bread with black olives (with their bones!) inside. They are also called Uliate or Pizzi (when tomato is also added). They are one of the most common elements of the local gastronomy and they must be cooked in wood ovens. Honestly though, I have to admit that also those cooked in the electric oven by my mother in law are delicious.