During the summer months it’s harder to miss a festival than to find one in Italy. However small the village or town people of all ages and backgrounds come together to celebrate. And what are these mini festivals you ask? They are a celebration of one of, if not THE most important thing to an Italian – food. Brightly coloured posters line village noticeboards with the word SAGRA in big letters. It’s what comes after that word that defines what they are toasting to. Sagra di Anguria (Festival of Watermelon), Sagra di Pittula (Festival of the Fried Dough Ball) Sagra di Pomodoro (Festival of the Tomato) these are just a few of the posters I witnessed when going back to my families tiny village in the southernmost part of Puglia this year. I wasn’t going to miss out on the delicacies of these local fairs and headed to Sagra degli Antichi Sapori (Festival of Ancient Tastes)
Driving through the next village to ours you could easily miss this edible feast if you don’t know where to look. A swift turn of your head at the right moment and you see bright lights and movie- esque smoke down a back street. The smell of fried bread and barbequed Italian sausage wafting through the car window tells you you’ve come to the right place. Temporary erected wooden boards pasted with white paper and masking tape (no fance around here!) list the various dishes this street has to offer. Local treats included Orecchiette (little pasta ears ), Friselline (a hard bread dipped in water), Horsemeat and Pizza Rustica. Once completing the taxing task of choosing what to have for our dinner the cashiers hand us over masses of lottery like tickets, one things for sure we were going to be on a winning streak here. Eating our bounties around the Italian equivalent of a wallpaper table we listened to a local band play ancient folk songs whilst elderly couples danced deep-rooted dances of the past.
What we ate –
Legumi con pane – Fava Bean puree with bread
Pittula – fried dough balls
Pancetta e Pane – Griddled Pork with bread
Salsiccia e pane – Italian sausage with bread
Birra alla Spina – Beer on tap