To the beach this morning with an Italian family to enjoy one of our first cloudless days in Puglia for several weeks. Torre Canne was the destination and it seems plenty of others had the same idea. Il Messaggero one of the big daily newspapers did a survey in May about the effect of the crisi on Italian families and one of the survey questions was “will you be taking an holiday this year ” and our survey said no or at least 72% said no. Well they lied, because there are as many if not more than last year down here. There are also a very large contingent of Brits here as well, so lots of these rather strange burka wearing small children running around completely protected from the sun’s rays whilst Mum is in a bikini and Dad in his Speedo. Obviously they feel they have done the damage already so why bother.
We found a place amongst the masses and settled down. The cloudless sky belied the fact that a strong wind was blowing from the north so whipping up small sandstorms from time to time. At 1 p.m. the picnic bag was opened and like probably 95% of the Italians on the beach slices of focaccia were produced.
We eat focaccia barese down here which has fresh tomatoes on the top though you can add olives as well or as a substitute. We also down here use oregano as the herb of choice. Focaccia barese ( Bari) is softer than in the rest of Italy where it is more crunchy and there’s is thicker too. However with the wind blowing my slice soon became quite crunchy with grains of sand.
Focaccia and a day at the beach go together down here like in the UK the beach and an ice cream cornet do. I’d love to say that all the Italians were tucking in to homemade focaccia where the wife had risen at 6 a.m. to prepare the dough and cook it but I would be lying. Most if not all will have been bought from the bread shop that morning. However Italians are very particular about their bread and their focaccia so will travel some distance to buy from the shop they believe does the best one. Ours today came from a panificio (bakery) in Martina Franca and we would have passed probably three other bakeries before getting to this one but it seems it is worth the extra kilometres.
So here is how to make it but in Italian
As you can see it is very visual no speaking and all the written words are easily found in the dictionary. Acqua- water, lievito-yeast, Farina-flour, cucchiaio -spoon, sale-salt etc so give it a go.
After lunch you, of course, must have coffee and so all the Italians on the beach adjourn to the nearest beach bar. We had espressino fredo which is hugely refreshing and do try it if you come down here. Ice cold espresso coffee with a little ice cold water and a dash of the cream from the top of the milk also icey cold. It comes in a long glass and perks you up for the next swim. I had already swum that morning so I guess it was a double dip for all you economists out there !!
We stopped in Martina Franca on the way back from the beach and bought chicken wings to be cooked tonight in the wood oven with a few bottles of rosatto wine to help them down. A great end to an Italian beach ( spiaggia) day.
Now those of you like me that were looking forward to a seaplane ride next year from Brindisi to Corfu well don’t hold your breath . It seems that having been flown around for 3 weeks on all the junkets the harbour master of Brindisi has decided that if the seaplane is to land the entire port must be closed for the hour before and the hour after each aircraft movement effectively doing the project in. Another jobsworth. It is a bit like the Air traffic controllers at Heathrow who are yet another band of highly unionised professionals rather like airline pilots and doctors deeming a helicopter not a vertical takeoff aeroplane but that it must link into the fixed wing aircraft approach and even fly someway down the runway in use before then hovering and landing vertically at the terminal. More jobsworths.