Puglia, the Italian lung – from blog

By Fausto Borella

Ideally begin to walk on all the Italian olive groves, starting from the lung of our olive-growing, the heel of the Boot: the Puglia region.
According to the latest estimates, Puglia is the first producer of Italian oil and the third in the world after Andalusia and Tunisia. From the North – with Dauno PDO – to the South with the Terra d’Otranto PDO, reaching the Terra di Bari, Terre Tarantine and Collina di Brindisi PDOs, the region is a veritable kaleidoscope of flavours, which express their full potential during the summer season, even and especially in combination with the landscapes that characterize the region.
The whole of Puglia worth a visit. You have to stop in Andria, with its Frederick’s castle par excellence, Castel del Monte, Alberobello with its characteristic trulli and the farms in Brindisi with their spectacular centuries-old olive groves. Last but not least, the Salento and the Terra d’Otranto to experience a sense of baroque in the rurality reflected in two of the most beautiful seas in Italy.
The main oil varieties in Puglia are Peranzana, Ogliarola, Leccino, Cellina, Olivastra and especially the now famous Coratina, widespread throughout the province of Bari, where 83,000 producers of this nectar meet. Besides, the latter has the highest rate of polyphenols – antioxidants substances that protect the oil from oxidation – and of linoleic acid, a polyunsaturated fatty acid of the omega-6 family, which is beneficial for the immune system, is anti-cancer and adjuvant in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases.
A word of advice to all producers who want to extract the most out of their varieties: continuous monitoring, during the warmer months, of the attacks against the olives by the olive fly, a tiny insect that creeps into the pulp and irreparably damages the olive, leaving a sweet and fatty taste. Who, on the contrary, will have collected his or her olives at the correct maturation, will have brought them within twenty-four hours to a mill and will have stored them in stainless steel silos – preferably under nitrogen in an inactivated atmosphere – will obtain pleasant results. The predominant sensations will be particularly bitter with spicy aftertastes of black pepper and red pepper. This will ensure that the couplings will be, by agreement, with grilled beef steaks with chicory, or to enrich the lampascione cooked in hot ashes. Or, by contrast, on a rice salad with tomatoes, peas and basically sweet seasonal vegetables, or to flavour the typical maritati with the burrata and pachino tomatoes.