Jonathan in the comments makes a good point, with all the issues here why stay ? What is it about the place that keeps me from upping sticks and moving on. I could make a list of pro points but then quite quickly I could make an equal if not longer list of anti points as well. It is something more intangible than lists. It is simply a feeling of being home. I get off a plane when returning and rush to the nearest airport caffe and as I drink my first coffee soak up the feel of the place. It is like slipping on an old pair of comfortable shoes and Italy and now Puglia has that effect on me. I know Jonathan feels the same about his part of South West France, Caroline about her piece of Portugal and Louis about his place in Cyprus. Will it last ? Who knows but for now it feels just like those wonderful pair of shoes. Maybe one day they will need to be tossed but not yet, definitely not yet.
Michelle Obama has written to the Lecce council and thanked them for naming an olive tree after her as an award for her promoting the Mediterranean Diet in the USA. The tree was called ” La Regina” . 1.400 years old and with a girth of 14 metres. That’s the tree not the First Lady . Heavens forbid. Not only has she had the tree re-named after her but the 25 litres of olive oil the old girl ( tree) produces every year will be sent each November to the White House. Mind you those council members aren’t fools. Since they wrote telling her of their plans and leaked the letter to every TV station in the States there has already been a steady stream of American visitors to the Obama tree.
But what of the other great American export McDonalds. Well coincidentally they are in the news too. There were just 13 Golden Arches in the whole of Puglia which is one less than there are in Naples and I couldn’t count the number in Rome on their location map. So Puglia has proved a tough nut or olive stone for them to crack. Now there are 12 as the one in Altamura has closed. It seems the local bakery alongside it decided to give Ronald McDonald a run for his money and started producing snack foods made with fresh fillings and freshly baked breads at prices that matched Ronald’s offering. The people flocked next door; the bakery boomed and McDonalds has closed.
To be fair the outlet in Taranto is always packed as is the one in Brindisi so there are plenty of converts but not enough it would seem to encourage more franchisees to pick up the baton and open more. Bari however does seem smitten with the quarter pounder and chicken nuggets with five now open. Plenty there seem to want to be Americano
That tune from 1956 is a satire on Italian boys who wanted to be like Americans hence the whisky and soda, rock and roll and baseball but still relied on their mothers to give them money and look after them !
To try to make further inroads into Puglia McDonalds have announced they will further “Italianize” their menus with orecchiette based salads and more panini style snacks . But Puglia with it’s fondness for fresh foods and home grown ingredients might well continue to surprise them. Maybe another good reason for staying here !
In 1974 on a trip to New York I was taken with great fanfare by some friends that worked for PanAm to a restaurant on the other side of Central Park in Harlem. Now in those days Harlem was not a place you went to lightly so we had to get a limo as cabs never wanted to go up there and you would never get a ride back. However they wanted me to try this new place that had just opened. It was the first McDonalds on the island of Manhattan and we ate burgers with fries and drank Coke . It was a yuppie place to be seen in then. How times have changed.