Puglia & Tomatoes

A tour of traditions and tastings.

There are songs, sonatas and nursery rhymes dedicated to it: the undisputed king of the table is the Tomato.
A smiling product that needs sun, water and a fertile land, like that of Puglia’s soil, to release all its potential for nourishment and taste.

In Puglia, you can find it in every color and you can count up to 25 varieties. Some even have mythological origins inspired by Pan the god of the woods, like the Pomodoro di Panni, while others have kept with honor their dialect name, like the Pomodoro a Cancedd. But two varieties in particular are the pride of mother nature, the Fiaschetto of the Natural Reserve of Torre Guaceto and the Pomodoro Regina of Torre Canne, whose cultivation dates back to the mid-800s. (LINK)

One thing is certain, the tomato revives every dish with the splendor of its color and gives a touch of joy to the convivial summer table.

In Puglia, the end of August is dedicated to the tradition of preparing the fresh tomato sauce. The whole region is a ferment of scents from country houses, the laughter of children in the courtyards of the villages and clinking of beer bottles filled with fresh tomato sauce that mumble over low heat in the basins. A fragrance of joy and melancholy spreads in the air signalling the end of the summer holidays.

The sauce recipe is an ancient family art, stored in the iron memory of grandmothers and in their precious recipe books written with trembling handwriting and whitewashed with flour. Variations of techniques, little tricks and preparation secrets, ranging from a small garlic clove to a fresh basil leaf, are often a source of pride for the family. You know, in Puglia no topic is more serious than food!

On a pizza, the tomato is as important as the pizza maker himself. It’s the true key ingredient of a pizza able to change its face and color – from the vernile giallo sanguigno tomato, to the white variant, to the caprese – always giving new curious variations of taste.

In the month of August, when the tomatoes reach their maturity, the traditional festivals in his honor abound in the land of Puglia. The most picturesque feast with music, tastings of traditional dishes and typical dances are the “Pummitoru Schiattarisciatu” of Aradeo, “La Sagra da far’nedd and the Flavors of Puglia” in Castellaneta, and the colorful Festa del Pomodoro in the square of Borgo Egnazia on August the 30th. Instead, perhaps the most famous festival dedicated to the red vegetable is the Tomatina di Buñol in Spain, during which thousands of people are called to literally throw tomatoes to each other in a real battle of fun for pure entertainment.

The truth is that the tomato is irresistible always and in any case, whether it is crackling in the pan, or crushed on a frisella. Sometimes even in the face.