Summer food in Salento that couldn't be easier to prepare or tastier. Whenever the mention of summer along the Salento coastline came up, friselle were always part of the conversation. My food-loving Salento friend's (Claudia's) mouth watered whenever she described how to prepare and eat them. They resemble bagels without holes, formed in rings with the centers filled in with one of the dough ends. Made with barley and whole wheat flour and with less water than normally used to make bread, friselle are brown in color, dry and crunchy.
To prepare, you dip them in water to soften them a little; an action called bagnare le friselle in Italian. Typically, you garnish them with local tomatoes, salt, oregano and drizzle Pugliese olive oil over them. The sweet and soft tomatoes contrast nicely to the still crunchy friselle, and the olive oil adds an unctuous flavor from the Salento land. Claudia told me they are even better dipped in sea water. The sea "bath" is the normal procedure when lunching on friselle during a day at sea on a boat.
Another testament to the ingenuity of cucina povera, friselle's popularity came about over the last hundred years and because peasants of the countryside (i contadini) needed to find foods that they could store in their homes over the winter. At the time during the winter, transportation was nonexistent to unreliable, and cities and markets were few and far between, making winter shopping extremely difficult. The peasants would stock up on food that could last for many months in their homes. Friselle were the perfect solution.
Most likely due to their ease of preparation and that they are light fare, ideal for hot summer months, friselle are now an even more popular dish in the summer. While spending the day at the beach, or on a boat, in Salento, you will certainly see locals with friselle in their beach bag. As they keep so well and are very inexpensive, you can buy a sack or two to bring home as a food souvenir. Each time I top one with sweet summer tomatoes and a drizzle of Italian olive oil, I think of Salento. The only things I'm missing are the Mediterranean Sea and a boat from which to bagnare le friselle.
Join me in Puglia in 2013! For this food lover's culinary tour, we'll be cooking with our beautiful Italian mamme and professional chefs. We'll also be eating and exploring our way through the region. There are four tour dates available from which to choose! For tour details, check out this page: Culinary Tours in Puglia 2013!
***Early booking discount: Book and pay by check by January 31, 2013 and receive a $200 discount off the tour price.****
Photo at the top of the post provided courtesy of Ylenia and used with her permission. All other photos in this post are mine, All Rights Reserved.