I was already waiting by the door, itching to get out to our meeting spot where we would gather up our friends and go to an old farmhouse for lunch. “Aspetta,” Manu chided, “you know we’re going to be the first ones there as usual!” And we were.
This is Italy, and you have to know that Italians are on their own schedule. A 12 o’clock meeting time means 1 o’clock, so we got an aperitif at the piazza bar. Slowly but surely our friends showed up, con calma. They got drinks too, chatted about the previous night out, cheek-kissed passing friends. You have to be zen when it comes to planned activities in Italy. Nothing is ever done easily, like meeting and just going. No. There’s chatting and general calma about everything. After an hour of calma, we had to pick up more friends, then someone had to stop for cigarettes, then someone else had to get gas, then there was a small argument about what road to take, then we left.
It felt like the gates of heaven opened up when we finally pulled into the masseria (old farmhouse) in the countryside, surrounded by olive groves, framed by distant hills and spotted with fruit and cypress trees. Inside, the rustic vibe was too much for me to handle, and I meandered behind everyone, oohing and aahing at everything.
(Let this be a warning to any of you who are hungry, you might want to wait to read the following until you have a snack prepared.) The chewiest, warm country bread was placed in baskets on our wooden table, alongside saucers of cooked wine, meant for drizzling on top like honey. Bowls of creamy ricotta with tiny sprigs of rosemary and tied knots of buffalo mozzarella came next. Fennel-seeded salami, baked porcini mushrooms, a chick pea stew, roasted cabbage in broth, mini pepper meatballs, fried puffs of dough with cheese inside and various souffles were next. We couldn’t stop cheers-ing, saluting to the pleasures of life, and our laughter was uncontrollable. (How could you not be happy, amongst all that goodness?) Whole wheat fresh pasta came next, like round little coins, with steamed broccoli rabe and sprinkled with fried breadcrumbs. Then a thick spaghetti with wild boar tomato sauce. A pause to go outside and laugh at the animals was helpful for our stomachs, but when we returned there were plates of sausage cooked in red wine and roasted potatoes. Plates of fresh fruit with lemon custard and candied almonds was dessert.
[Manu, Filippo, Ezio, Ruggiero]If you can imagine, all of this was only 35 euro, a small price to pay for such delicacies, don’t you think? And I forgot to mention, all of the wine, which was included in the price, was made not even five kilometers away. So, when are you coming to Puglia?
["I want to live here!"]
Is is Sunday lunch yet?