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Typical recipes from the province of Foggia

The province of Foggia is the only region of Apuglia to have a particular feature in their traditional cuisine: the absense of a typical fish dish, even though the area is surrounded by the sea for many kilometers.

Everything derives from the fact that thirteen or fourteen centuries before Christ, the territory of the Dauni – a peaceful people of Greek shepherds - was suddenly invaded by the Dorians, heading down from the North. Given the daunting circumstances, the Dauni chose freedom and embarked for the Adriatic coast, but unfortunately they did not have any marine experience and the short journey across the Mediterranean Sea turned out to be a very unfortunate adventure, ending in a disaster: many of them drowned and the few survivors who reached the coast were traumatised with an invincible fear of water and the sea.

This is why descendants of the Dauni weren't skillful fishermen and as a matter of fact, they were not even keen on sea food. Today, of course, in the Gargano area there are various excellent seafood dishes; but the recipes are imported from other areas or they have been developed more recently.

Given the abundance of wheat crops, the local cuisine is characterized by its pasta dishes. In addition to the common pasta of the entire Apulia region, the province of Foggia produces specialities such as orecchiette (recchietelle), lagane, laganelle, fusilli, strascinati, chianchiarelle, mignuicche, pociacche, fenescecche - and also the famous troccoli which get its name from the stick that is used to cut them. Several ingredients such as vegetables, meat, spices, herbs, cheese and fish are used to create toppings, dressings or sauces which are served with the pasta, creating exquisite dishes.

Many products from the vegetable garden are incomparable in quality; there are "caccialepre", "crispigni", curly chicory, wild fennel, "marasciuli" (bitter herbs that grow in the vineyards), "paparuli" (mushrooms with a peppery taste) and "lampasciuni" (bitter onions). All of these vegetables would be used in traditional "tiella" or "tiedda".

Tiella is a casserole dish which is a smart, tasty and versatile creation.

Apparently it was created to satisfy the need for a solid and nutritious dish prepared in a relatively short time, during the periods when women also had to help out in the country and on their return home in the evening after a long day of work, dish up something fast in order to fill the stomachs of their families. "Tiella" is ideal because you layer all the raw ingredients into one casserole and simply bake it, creating a wide variety of well-blended flavors, for example vegetables, cod, olives, rice and potatoes is always good. Even the poorer version of "tiella" - potato, onions and olives - is still a delicious version.

Throughout the south, beef is rather rare, whereas game, poultry, pork, wild rabbit and lamb or mutton have always been prevalent. Once herding and breeding were common on the plains (Table of the Apulias), in the Murge and Gargano regions, but the cultivation of wheat has almost completely replaced the poultry tradition. A few ancient, traditional recipes are nowadays only still to be found in family homes. One particular ancient and by now very rare dish is "quagghiaridde" - Ventricina mutton stuffed with chopped offal and combined with smoked cheese, eggs and sausage. It is baked in the oven and served with cooked rocket. "Gnemeridde" are lamb guts cut into strips and coiled into a tight ball, giving the dish its name. They are sautèed with herbs and pecorino cheese.

The old recipe called 'fava beans and lagane" is interesting; it is made with the following ingredients:

400g of dried fava beans, 100g of olive oil, garlic and chili, 500g of loane or fettuccini. It is then cooked as follows: the fava beans are simmered in a saucepan with enough water for about an hour. When they are cooked, they are stirred through a sieve or blended in a mixer in order to create a semi-liquid puree. In a separate pot boil the loane or fettuccini al dente and add them to the mashed fava beans. Meanwhile, in a pan, fry the oil with garlic and chili. Once the garlic has turned a golden color, pour it over the pasta and puree. Leave it to rest for a few minutes before serving. This dish should be accompanied by fried breadcrumbs served in a separate bowl, so that everybody can help themselves.

The breadcrumbs are prepared as follows: crumble the bread into little crumbs by hand and sprinkle them into a pan with hot oil, keeping the pan on the heat, and continuously stirring the bread crumbs to avoid getting them stuck or burnt. The crumbs are ready when golden brown. The loane is fettuccini made exclusively of flour and water: 500 g are needed for six people, and as much water as required. It is a typical peasant dish, because it is cheap to cultivate fava beans, which are nevertheless rich in protein. Fava beans alternate with durum wheat in the crop cycle, and therefore serve to lighten and refresh the fallow land. As for typical dairy dishes, we will focus on a speciality from the Apulian tableland: provola cheese made of buffalo milk, a very distinct dairy product of round shape, fragrant flavor, a pleasant, milky white color and with a shiny, porcelain-like skin.

Throughout the region sweets are of ancient tradition, they are still homemade and are generally related to religious holidays. Some are typical of the area, such as "Propato," a donut which is enjoyed in the Gargano region on any joyful occasion. It is made of flour, lard, yeast, honey and cinnamon. The popular addition of heated wine often gives it a darker color.

In Foggia and in the surrounding region, the "grano dei morti" ("grain of the dead") is still very widespread. This is a dessert made of: 500g of "bianchetta" wheat, one large, ripe pomegranate, 150g of walnuts, 150g of dark chocolate, 100g of candied lemon, one chopped stick of cinnamon, one tablespoon of sugar and some heated wine and syrup made from boiled wort. It is very simply prepared as follows: boil the grain for an hour, after having soaked it in water for two days. Leave it to cool, and then add the other chopped ingredients and serve topped with some mulled wine, which, if drizzled before, would harden the mixture.

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