A line above from Brideshead Revisited a favourite book of mine as well as a great ITV mini series from 1981. He tells his scout Lunt he will be eating out rather than in his room and sets off :
Ryder is off for a lunch to meet Sebastion Flyte. My lunch whilst not as palatial will have far better food and wine hence this early post today. The wine which is one of the other guests own wine from his vines will no doubt flow like water and it would be churlish as a guest to decline ! So problems posting later today.
Pasquale has been out this morning gathering various plants from the fields around here to go in the brodo ( soupy stew). He slaughtered his pig a week ago and the trotters will make the basis of the stew for the first course along with the greenery , home produced olive oil, white wine and some small pieces of veal.
I have been down this morning to help . this is the venue: ( click if you want to enlarge)
An old Masseria ( don’t you love Pasquale’s Fiat 500 circa 1973 model) is not far from here that a friend will be renovating during this year to turn it and the land into a mountain bike track. Until then we get to use it for the odd lunch .
We set up a stove inside with a gas barrel for heat :
and an hour ago put the stew on to cook for 4 hours or so.
Puglians live very closely with the land and it is amazing to see the numbers of people out in the early morning in the fields and woodland with baskets and bags gathering plants for the table at lunchtime. We have wild asparagus growing around us now as well as wild rocket and chicory the green leaves of which are in the stew above. They are fanatical about fresh food and cook only what is in season.
Thinking of this reminded me of my first visit to Rome as an nine year old in 1957 and being determined to manage to twirl my spaghetti on a fork without using a spoon the way the locals were doing it. We ate out every night and had to drink bottled water with our meal as the tap water then was unsafe to drink. No ice cream either, but I do remember loving all the food. Guess that’s why I’m here now.
On our return my mother went out and bought Elizabeth David’s book Italian Food but struggled to find the ingredients. Olive oil in the UK then you bought in a chemist shop and used it to clear wax from your ears, and basil was just a man’s name . She did find spaghetti and with homegrown tomatoes could start to create dishes but very basic stuff.
Elizabeth David the daughter of a Tory Member of Parliament and seemingly quite a haughty and aloof individual was in fact a pretty raunchy lady and wandered about Europe in the late 30’s and 40’s with a series of men whom she discarded at will . From reading her unofficial biography by Lisa Chaney it is quite a wonder she had time to notice the food she was eating let alone have time to write cookbooks !
Food and sex leads always to that great When Harry met Sally clip doesn’t it.
To understand Puglia cooking you can’t go wrong with Patience Gray’s book Honey from a Weed. She lived just down the road and lived the life of a rural Puglian with her sculptor husband Norman Mommens until her death in 2005.