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Orecchiette baresi

“Strascinate e maccheroni incavati di Bari” (long and hollow maccheroni from Bari) was how the Neopolitan author Giambattista del Tufo described the pasta known as orecchiette in the second half of the 15th century. The exact origin of this fresh pasta is obscure but the theory is that it is linked to Provencal. . In fact since mediaeval times a kind pasta which is very similar has been produced in the south of France, known as “cosets”. Therefore it was under the Angioina domination, in the 13th century that a cultural contamination happened and the most famous pasta of Bari was born, “little pasta shaped ears”.
As with the famous bread of Altamura, the secret of the taste of orecchiette is linked to the air, the water and Puglian bran flour, plus the manual skills of the women who prepare them. Water and bran flour are therefore the two simple ingredients needed to make the pasta which then is needed and divided into long sticks. From each stick , with a knife you take a small piece of pasta, mould it with a thumb, the little ears are left to dry, boiled in salted water and served with a sauce of tomatoes or meat, and sometimes with exquisite local vegetables. In a city like Bari on the sea many of its dishes are based on fish and seafood.
The Spanish domination is probably linked to the birth of another famous dish of Bari “la tiella di riso, patate and cozze”( a dish made with rise, sliced potatoes and mussels). It was not a happy time for the people of Bari, in fact the two centuries from the beginning of the 15th to the first years of the 17th of the Spanish vice royalty, was marked by heavy taxes, famine and a terrible plague which decimated the population. Tiella is therefore is probably an adaptation of the Spanish Paella. The main ingredients are; mussels, rice, sheep’s milk cheese, onions, potatoes, courgettes, and fundamentally according to some to achieve the right  consistency not to add too much water during the cooking to dilute the flavours, the dish is slowly baked in the oven. All the ingredients have to picked with great care in order to achieve the best result.


 

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