Life in Lecce # 5
If my life in Italy wasn’t envious enough for you - and me for that matter - I’m gonna break down my days here in Lecce. Around 10am we all meet at the café for our morning espresso drink with the locals. Afterwards, we all saunter down the road to the famers market and buy all of our fresh produce, bread, cheese, etc for making our daily lunch and dinner. After shopping we walk back to school and start our prep to cook lunch. Also, if we are making pasta, we will make 2 different shapes and we’ll enjoy one shape for lunch and the other for dinner.
This is the first time in a long time I have enjoyed eating pasta. It’s fresh and dense and chewy and light and hearty all the same time. And since it’s a blend of unprocessed whole grain barley and semolina flours, it has tons of fiber, which makes for lovely regularity for this traveler. Sorry. I’m just saying…
For lunch we started with our primi of Le orecchhiette con le cima di rape or ear shaped pasta with broccoli rabe. It’s one of my favorites. We chopped the rabe, added garlic, red pepper flakes, sea salt, olive oil and cooked it so it became like a thick sauce. Then after we boiled the pasta, added a little of the pasta water to the rabe as the starch from the pasta helps thickens the sauce and all the flavors become one. Yum.
Our secondi was Coniglio con olive verde e timo or braised rabbit with green olives and thyme. Succulent, fragrant and amazing. For wine we had a red Negroamaro from Salento called Santa Maria Del Morige, 2007 and for the docli (dessert) was had Fresh Green Figs with a lovely not too sweet desert wine.
Now, I have never been the kind of gal who drinks in the afternoon AND night. This wine twice a day thing takes a few days to get in the swing of. But it definitely comes quick when you are here in Lecce and helps that the town shuts down for mid-afternoon siesta, which allows one to recuperate before dinner!
And now…the dinner.
Our primi was Ciceri e tria, a slowly cooked thick chick pea stew with flat pasta cooked 2 ways. 1st way boiled, 2nd way fried in olive oil so it’s crispy and soft. Wonderful textures and tastes in this dish and it’s one of the most beloved dishes in this region. Back in the day, the fried pasta was originally meant to mimic the texture of meat. The dish is also quite hearty so a little goes a long way.
Our secondi was Salsiccia fresca, which is homemade grilled pork sausage with dried figs. This is the one and only dish I wanted nothing to do with, as I am not a pork or sausage woman…so we shall just leave it at that. But we did grill a bunch of eggplants before the sausages, which were yummy. Grilled and finished with olive oil, sea salt and freshly chopped herbs.
The docli was called Le Cupeta, otherwise known as almond brittle but unlike any other almond brittle I have had. Blanched almonds, raw sugar caramelized and then rubbed down with a cut lemon over the hot sugar when it gets poured over the almonds to set. It’s sublime with an intoxicating essence of lemon. Mmmmmm so so so damn good.