I am reading a book by Paul Feeney called A 1950s Childhood From Tin Baths to Bread and Dripping in which he takes the reader through what it was like to be a child in that era. For me it is pure nostalgia, a trip down memory lane no less, remembering things as he talks about them that I had forgotten. Izal hard toilet paper in my grandmother’s outside loo and the scariness of going there after dark. The lack of fridges and the pantry with it’s wire mesh window for ventilation. No hair dyers, the mangle on the sink on wash day, the front room for entertaining “guests” who ever they were. The move from the radio era into the TV era in the 50s. In 1948 there were just 13,000 households with a TV in Britain by 1964 there were 13million households glued to the screen each night.
I loved the radio and still enjoy a good radio play and until they handed control of The Archers over to the guy that used to run Eastenders ( with predictable results) I still listened each week to the omnibus edition. But Paul Feeney reminded me of another one I listened to in the 50s Mrs Dale’s Diary
Now Mrs Dale normally used to start off ” I’ve been worried about Jim ” as you can hear on that clip. And I guess I can say “I’ve been worried about Taranto” or not me particularly but the tourist industry of the area. They have finally woken up to the fact that tourism is down and continues to go down so the council have been trying to do something about it. They have looked enviously at areas in the north of Italy and the number of foreign tourists going there and wondered why.
At the hearing last week they asked tour operators and travel agents to attend and tell them what was wrong. Little seems to have come out of it other than the usual suggestions to attend travel trade shows most importantly the big one each year in Rimini and the shows in the USA, Germany and the UK. However you rather need something to present and show at these things and bear in mind this is the area that has problems with pollution, high cancer rates, big oil refineries, grim steel works and is the same city that closed it’s archaeological museum ( reckoned to be the second most important in terms of artefacts in the whole of Italy) for two summers for repairs so the workers didn’t get cold by doing it in the winter.
However it seems this weekend a white knight has come a-riding into Dodge City (actually I guess that should be cowboy but there you go) in the form of Gambero Rosso.
If like me you aren’t sure who that is, let me tell you what I have found out. The magazine Gambero Rosso or Red Prawn in English ( it comes from Pinocchio and is the tavern where the Cat and the Fox eat) is huge in Italy and indeed in many parts of the world. It was founded in the early 1980s to counter a wine scandal that had rocked the Italian industry ( a small matter of sticking anti freeze in the wine to save money ) and has grown to be the authority on Italian wines. It’s wine guide is read by millions as is its’ restaurant guide. In 2009 it launched it’s own food channel on Sky Italia ( channel 411 if you have Sky) and also launched Citta del Gusto in Rome then Naples, Catania and Palermo. The Citta del Gusto is a cooking school, TV studio, bookstore etc ( the Rome store is 10,000 sq metres in size) and promotes the local genuine cooking of the area.It is much valued brand to have and hugely popular.
Anyway guess what they are interested in Puglia cooking ( who isn’t these days) and I tell you after 5 weeks of fried lamb chops so am I. But they didn’t go to Bari they came to Taranto and it is here they want to put down roots. The idea is to promote real Puglia food with new labels that reflect the authenticity of food products from Puglia , to develop regional cooking schools and to ensure and grade restaurants that serve real Pugliese food made in the traditional way ( oh why aren’t they in Cyprus).
With this Taranto finally has something to hang it’s hat on and could attend trade shows as a Citta del Gusto. It would be nice as despite all the problems it is a pleasant city with a lovely centro storico as well as having the beautiful islands just off the port as well.
A popular chef appearing always on the Gambero Rosso channel is Jamie Oliver so who knows we might have him in Taranto soon
I’m not sure about Altamura having the best bread in Italy or indeed in Puglia. Most Italian friends tell me that the bread in Matera is the best bread in Italy though I love the bread from my local bakery in Martina Franca. Wonder if he delivers to Cyprus ? Wonder if Mimma’s restaurant in Ceglie could deliver me a pizza ?