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Posts from the ‘People’ Category

Sunday Lunch, Puglia Style

Sunday lunch in Italy means family, friends and lots of extraordinary food. We made ours in California as we put the final touches on our Pascarosa Insider's Food and Wine Tours for October 2017.

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Pugliafornia

November means it's time to harvest olives in Puglia, a job we welcomed with open arms after the disastrous 2014 harvest.

November means it’s time to harvest olives in Puglia, a job we welcomed with open arms this year after the disastrous 2014 harvest.

This isn’t the first time I’ve had a l-o-n-g dry spell between posts, so I won’t offer any excuses (disabled computer, lack of good Wi-Fi, sudden finger paralysis . . . anything else?). No, it seems my utter failure to organize my thoughts isn’t particularly dramatic, but it is something of a metaphor for our lives lately. Let me elaborate. Read more

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Where We Come From, Where We’re Going

Good food and good friends . . . essential elements that connect us to place.

Good food and good friends . . . essential elements that connect us to place.

If you follow nuovastoria, you already know that there has been a long, dry spell between posts. There isn’t a compelling reason that kept me away from the keyboard like, for example, sudden paralysis or irreversible computer failure. But there have been big changes afoot—changes that started small and became too big to ignore. Making sense of them has taken some time. Read more

The Kids are All Right

The first snow of 2014 dances around us as we welcome 2015.

The first snow of 2014 dances around us as we prepare to welcome 2015.

2014 is drawing to a close. In Puglia, snow flurries blanket the cone-shaped roofs of this region’s iconic stone houses. The air is brisk as the sun sinks low in the sky, limestone-paved alleyways glow with the reflected light of wrought-iron streetlights and residents settle in for winter as they have always done. But there is disquiet here, a growing sense that so much of Italy’s infrastructure, the modus operandi that touches all aspects of life, is profoundly troubled. From the morning caffè chat in the local bar to the increasingly gloomy headlines in evening news, there is collective acknowledgement that years of “crisi,” the pervasive economic stagnation that is crippling Italy’s younger generation, is here to stay. But amidst the endless stories of despair, there is reason to hope. Read more

Le Feste

Cartellate, the iconic Pugliese Christmas sweet, is everywhere we look these days. And it's very, very hard to resist.

Cartellate, the iconic Pugliese Christmas sweet, is everywhere we look these days. And it’s very, very hard to resist.

Like just about everything else in Puglia, the holiday season arrives in exactly the same way it always has. From l’Immacolata (December 8th) to the vigilia (the night before Christmas) to Christmas Day itself, the growing excitement is palpable. Christmas markets in town squares are erected seemingly overnight, municipalities organize fanciful light displays and shops are open—gasp!—on Sundays to facilitate holiday gift buying. But unlike the U.S., the holiday spirit doesn’t flag on December 26th. In Italy, there is Santo Stefano (December 26th), San Silvestro (New Year’s Eve) and l’Epifania (the Epiphany, or more colloquially, la Befana) on January 6th still to celebrate. It’s an embarrassment of riches, particularly at the table. Read more

In the Kitchen with Rosy

Bosc pears are plentiful in fall and winter. They're also the best choice for desserts because they hold their shape in baking.

Bosc pears are plentiful in fall and winter. They’re also the best choice for desserts because they hold their shape in baking.

This won’t come as a surprise to those of you who know me, but some of the very best moments during our busy tour season this year were spent in the kitchen. Not unlike the way that dinner guests always end up converging right where the action is, our tour participants were drawn to the Italian kitchens we visited like moths to the flame. And in some cases, it really was a flame since we visited more than one glowing wood-burning oven heated to almost 700 degrees Fahrenheit. In the experience of diving into new ingredients with Italian home cooks, bakers, butchers and professional chefs, our guests deepened their understanding of this culture and its people. And they ate very, very well. Read more

Tour de Force

The Itria Valley countryside is dotted with trulli, circular stone dwellings with cone-shaped roofs and stone pinnacles on high.

The Itria Valley countryside is dotted with trulli, circular stone dwellings with cone-shaped roofs and stone pinnacles on high.

I know, I know . . . it’s been a really long time since you’ve heard from me. I don’t have a great excuse, except to say that late summer and fall have brought an embarrassment of riches this year in the form of visitors to our little corner of the Italian peninsula. We’ve hosted old friends and new friends over these past several months, touring from the tip of the heel of Italy’s boot to the sassi (cave) homes of the rocky Basilicata plains to the blue Adriatic seaside. Touring takes time and energy, not to mention the endless details to confirm, transportation to coordinate and follow-up post-travel that seems to consume every spare moment. It’s not for the faint-hearted. Yet somewhere along the way, we’ve fallen in love with Puglia all over again. Read more

Tiella Tutorial

Mussels from the Mar Piccolo near Taranto are briny, sweet and lie at the heart of tiella alla Barese.

Mussels from the Mar Piccolo near Taranto are briny, sweet and lie at the heart of tiella alla Barese.

Summer seemed to fly by in Puglia this year, and not only because of the weather. Along with partner Nancy Harmon Jenkins, we’ve been busy planning AmorOlio in Puglia, our food-focused tours that start this fall. We were almost too focused to notice the late spring rains and capricious thunderstorms that blew into Italy in June, effectively putting summer on hold. When it finally arrived in mid-August, the southern heat settled in as if to make up for lost time. So we took a time out and did our best to maximize the long, sunny days and balmy nights here. Aperitivi on the roof terrace, lunch at the beach and as many bike rides as we could manage, but only when the thermometer stayed on the cooler side of 90 degrees Fahrenheit. And we dove deeply into the sea of summer produce that swells the markets in late summer. We’re still making all our favorite fair weather dishes as often as possible before the gorgeous fruits and vegetables disappeared for another nine months. Read more

Ramasole

Regina tomatoes strung together like a bunch of grapes is called a ramasole in Puglia. They're preserved like this all winter long, surviving until the next season's harvest begins.

Regina tomatoes strung together like a bunch of grapes is called a ramasole in Puglia. They’re preserved like this all winter long, surviving until the next season’s harvest begins.

It’s a little trickier than it looks. You need nimble fingers, perseverance and a patient teacher. We had at least one of these attributes when we joined a workshop at La Casa degli Uccellini last week to learn how to make ramasole, Puglia’s iconic tomato bunches gathered together with thick cotton strings for long preservation. Thanks to cultural historian Teresa Acquaviva, the founder of an organization that develops events like this to acquaint Italians with their agrarian past, the evening we spent learning about this seasonal pastime was inclusive, engaging and lots of fun. It represents the very best kind of tourism in a place that deserves so much more focus in Italy and beyond for its culinary traditions among so much else. Read more

Endless Summer, Italian Style

Nothing says summer in Italy like the clear, blue sea.

Nothing says summer in Italy like the clear, blue sea.

It’s August 15th, the day when ancient Romans rested, the Virgin Mary’s sinless soul and uncorrupted body ascended into heaven and modern Italians take to the nearest body of water to escape the inevitable August heat wave. Called Ferragosto today in a nod to its origins in antiquity during Emperor Augustus’s rule, this holiday marks the pinnacle of the summer season in Italy. And like every holiday here, it is celebrated en masse in exactly the same way all over the country. Read more

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