We LOVE Italy here at Nowt Poncy® and in particular the area of Puglia which is, if you’re looking at a map, along the heel because it’s a food lovers heaven. Much of the Italian olive oil comes from producers in Puglia as well as the most beautiful tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella.
Mrs NP and I recently spent a few days on a whistle-stop tour sourcing some amazing new products that we hope to add to the NP stable very soon. Talk about bad weather mind, thunderstorms, driving through the flooded streets of ancient towns, visiting factories and producers and ok, I admit it, a glass or two of the local Primitivo wine. Just to be polite of course. Not to mention the Italian way of driving like complete maniacs, overtaking on blind bends, driving 15 inches from your rear bumper, continually using the horn and a complete lack of indicators……..oh, and the town festivals that usually involve fireworks of a volume and seismic magnitude (and early morning testing) made me think that for all the world Italy had declared war and were firing offshore salvos from 16 inch naval guns. At one point I definitely saw clear air between Mrs NP and the mattress a few seconds before she had been soundly asleep on.
Puglia is blessed with a brilliant climate and the most wonderful people. Very little English is spoken and much of the time food buying is achieved with hand gestures, a smattering of very poor Italian that the locals tolerate with great patience and humour and hot days and warm evenings. The food market is the place for the best cheese, fruit and veg and seafood and it’s also the best place for deals and interacting with the locals who care deeply about the products they sell and often make themselves. The focaccia are to die for as are the gelato’s.
The towns come alive at night when everybody takes to the streets with the whole family in tow when, to the accompanying screams of overtired children and clip-clop of hugely inappropriate footwear for cobbles, people laugh and eat and generally get down to the business of socialising. The Italians call it “La passeggiata” and it’s amazing.
The food is so good. Very simple, tasty and surprisingly cheap. You don’t get ripped off there. If the prices were high then the locals would not go and the shops and restaurants would simply close down. It’s not poncy food either. There are no foods that have special awards (if it isn’t good enough then it won’t be on the shelves), there are no poncy slates/chopping boards/tiny shopping trolleys of chips. There are no poncy and pretentious menu descriptions. I saw one description recently that said something like “a suspicion of spice”. What the heck is THAT all about and WHY do we tolerate it?
We want food to invade your senses and be enjoyable by everyone. We want it to be quick, easy and delicious. As I tell people who visit us at shows – if you want poncy you’ll have to go elsewhere because, unfortunately, there’s a lot of it still about in the food world.
High quality does not mean poncy and we have found some amazing products that are easy to cook, taste fab and are really REALLY special and most importantly, the companies share the same ethics as we do. Family-owned, dedicated to selling the best food they can and always looking to make things better. If you’re looking for somewhere relatively unspoiled and untouristy then do yourselves a favour and head to Puglia. You really won’t regret it. We can’t wait to go back.
Our Italian pastas are from the Puglia region and the wheat is grown in fields that do not have any pesticides sprayed on them. They are made with concentrated natural extracts of spinach, tomato, beet, paprika and turmeric and the wheat is 100% durum.
Interesting fact: Did you know that most of the cheap pasta sold on the shelves of UK supermarkets cannot be legally sold as pasta in Italy as it’s of such poor quality? Well you do now…….