a curious Yankee in Europe's court

blog about living in Europe, and Italy

They rise to defend a culinary star of Apulia – le friselle

Posted on the November 7th, 2010

Some fellow ex-pats living in the southern Italian region of Apulia (Puglia) have objected (politely) to a bitterish verdict I pronounced  in a post some time ago about a regional specialty bread known as Friselle.

The offending post was written for an earlier incarnation of this blog. Back then I wrote primarily about the wonders of Italy and the Italian people. So after we returned from an idyllic summer vacation in Apulia in 2007, I wrote about our trip. I mostly sang the praises of Apulia, but I did lead with a negative when I described an unhappy encounter we had one evening with a plate of friselle (“Bread and Water in Apulia“).

The post began:

As a waiter set the plates of antipasto in front of us, I felt the happy curiosity of discovering a new dish. We had ordered a regional specialty called friselle pugliesi. It is a round, rock hard bread a little bigger than an English muffin. Each serving comes with side dishes of toppings of grilled and fresh vegetables, and with an individual bowl of water, and metal tongs…

My food review went downhill from there. Today some fellow ex-pats sent me a comment  to point out my error:

We are Americans living in Puglia.  Whoa, did you ever miss the boat on the friselle.  Our Italian friends simply hold it under the tap until the desired amout of water is absorbed — some like it crunchy, but many like it tender.

It is splendid, and serves as the absolutely most appropriate palette for the fine oil and fresh tomatoes and herbs of the region.  We first tried it on a sailboat off the coast of Brindisi.  Our Captain and his lady handed us each a moist friselle with tomatoes, oil, salt and anchovies.  To die for!  Try it again — keep it simple, eat it with your hands, and you’ll fall in love.

Thanks, I absolutely will try it again next trip to beautiful Apulia (the sailboat also sounds like a great idea).

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