I am participating in BootsnAll 30 Days of Indie Travel Project and today is Day 11 of the project and the topic is: “For some of us, food isn’t just a part of our travels, it’s the reason why we travel. Whether you travel the globe to try new foods and use food to form a deeper connection with the culture or just eat to live, food plays a big part in the travel experience. Share a food-related story from your travels or describe your best meal.“ : To Read the blog in Italian click here
The people in Puglia know how to party and how to eat. Case in point. Ferragosto. The festival of San Rocco in Locorotondo. I have never eaten so much as when I ate with the Mirabile family during my summer holidays last August. For an entire week there were dinners in, dinners out, dinners in the country, dinners in the city center, dinners at pizzerias and dinners by the sea. These dinners lasted for hours. I kid you not! The lunches also took about three hours to finish. It is unheard of to grab just a sandwich or have a quick bite to eat during festival week. It seemed that lunch would just end and it was time to dine again!
At every meal there were appetizers and sliced meats. These were followed by first courses of pastas with sauces or pastas baked in the oven. Then there were the second courses, plates of meat and fish. Then there was dessert. Then coffee. Then limoncello and grappa. Then icecream. Tables were enlarged to fill the entire living room to accommodate the extended family that consisted of aunts, grandparents, parents, cousins, sons and daughters, and guests from the United States.
It was during this week of food festing that I got to sample something I have never had before: Panzerotti. The night of San Rocco, after the statue of S. Rocco was paraded around the city and the fireworks & the hot air ballons had been set off to honor of the city’s patron saint, we walked out of Locorotondo to visit cousins at their trullo. From their house we were in a good position to watch more fireworks planned for later in the evening. You see, in Italy it isn’t sufficient to have only one fireworks display to honor the patron saint, instead it is necessary to have three more that begin at midnight and continue on into the wee small hours of the night. While we were waiting for the show to begin, what did we do? Well, obviously we ate! This time on the menu were panzerotti cooked in an oven on the terrace of the Trullo. The master chef of the hour was Francesca’s uncle who oversaw the cooking of the panzerotti with jokes and good humor and always with a glass of wine in hand or a half eaten panzerotte.
Panzerotti are wonderful when eaten warm right out of the oven. The are a specialty typical of Puglia and remind me of a small calzone o closed pizza. Panzerotti however, are made with a softer dough and after baking can be filled with a selection of many things: tomatoes and mozarella, spinach, mushroom, corn, sausage, eggplant or prosciutto. Another filling is a mixture of onions fried in olive oil and topped with cappers and anchovies. Grilled peppers also work well as a filler.
While I was eating my second panzerotto, aware that my stomach was growing bigger by the hour, I heard the sound of the fireworks in the distance. Taking a break from pigging out, I enjoyed the show of lights with the rest of the animated, happy family all around me. It was a magical moment visually and gastronomically. When the show ended at three in the morning, did we all go home? No! We returned to the trullo to eat more! The aunts brought out cakes, ice cream cookies, Indian figs and other fruits. There was coffee and wine and beer. Everyone to the table! No one sleeps tonight! There are still panzerotti to eat up. We are just getting this party started!