Puglia Know How | Eating Out

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Food is an integral part of Puglia's identity. No matter where you are in in our region, good food is easy to find.

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The best of Puglia on a plate

Puglia has become famous internationally for its stunning beaches, rolling olive groves, medieval white towns and wonderful food.

Our region's cuisine is referred to as la cucina povera translating as “peasant food”, though it now symbolises simple but inventive dishes using seasonal, locally produced and fresh - always fresh - ingredients. Humble Puglian cooking using up every last part, the sum of which is greater than its parts.

The Big Gay Podcast from Puglia guides to food in Puglia. Brought to you by gaypugliapodcast. Pasta with squid, in squid ink.

 

Where to eat

In the era of social media, Instagram envy and FOMO (fear of missing out), when it comes to eating out on holiday we constantly check social media for those killer recommendations. We see that everyone is having the perfect meal, in a perfect restaurant on their perfect vacation... We deserve it too.

Avoiding tourist traps and the pressure of finding foodie perfection weigh heavily. So we turn to online travel forums and are encouraged by a few good reviews.

 

Then we spot a bad review. Pamela from Aberdeen thought the food was excellent and the staff attentive and friendly, but once the restaurant filled up, they had to wait a little too long for their bill to come.... and we find ourselves dithering again!

Here's the thing. Take a chance. On the whole, when it comes to Puglia, there is no such thing as bad food.

Don't obsess trying to find that “local” restaurant that's off the radar, but sufficiently on trend. Don't spend hours marching around Lecce, in the summer heat of the Salento sun, only to find that the restaurant highly recommended for their pasticciotti actually closed for business in 2018. Be spontaneous, be courageous.

Forget about fancy restaurant recommendations. Follow your nose. Follow your eyes. Delicious, authentic food is served all around - not just in the historic centres of towns and cities. Listen out for the chatter of Italians (although they will probably be speaking in dialect). Even in the simplest of eateries, if the locals are happy, you will be too.

 

You will find as delicious traditional dishes made with fresh, local and seasonal produce in a small, inexpensive trattoria as in the most expensive “boutique” style ristorante. As a rumble of thumb in Puglia, inflated prices likely mean paying for service and “experience” rather than better food.

No matter how fine the dining environment, nothing beats the experience of eating homemade dishes made according to a traditional, family recipe, cooked with passion.

When to eat

While there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to where to eat out, there certainly are for when to eat out. Here in southern Italy we lunch early but have our dinner late.

Lunch | All year round most workplaces, businesses and shops close for la pausa, la controra, il riposino - an afternoon break that starts from around 12.30-1pm (and continues until round 4.30-5pm). Many restaurants will continue lunch service until around 2.30pm. But be prompt - try to sit down before 2pm if you want to be sure of eating.

Dinner | The only people eating in restaurants at 8pm are British. At 8.30pm the German, Scandinavian and northern Italian visitors join them. We will book our table for 9pm, although we will of course arrive later than planned.

 

And remember, Italians enjoy the occasion of dining out. We are not in a rush, neither to eat, nor to finish and leave. If the service gets slower after the food has arrived, that's perfectly normal. Time to enjoy good food, good company and good Salento wine. Slow cooking and a slower life are all part of the Puglia experience that you came to enjoy.

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