As soon as we arrived in Alberobello we noticed there were posters practically everywhere around the town advertising the 3rd edition of “Orecchiette in Contrada”, a local town festival happening in a few days, where apparently plenty of food, wine, music and dancing would be on the menu.
Dale and myself both thought:
‘Why not? It sounds good for our tummies and it could also be good fun too(?!).’
It was decided, we were going!
I already knew more or less what to expect being from the area, but for Dale it was to be his 1st experience of this kind & probably the first of many others to come considering the amount of festivals there are in the region during the summer months.
Let the fun begin!
The day arrived, It was time to go, the whole thing would have started at 8.30pm yet by 9.30pm we still hadn’t left. We thought ‘What’s the rush, that should be plenty for everybody, right?’
Two of our friends called us & told us to hurry on up, only when we got there would we truly understand why.
We were not exactly sure where to go, so once we arrived into the small village of only 600 residents we followed the music that we could hear playing. The event was held in a small square loaded with picnic benches end-to-end to sit down whilst you ate, however, there were very few spaces left so people were sitting everywhere they possibly could; on walls, on stairs & the laps of loved ones.
The whole thing looked very rustic, nothing posh at all. Good job I wasn’t wearing anything fancy! Not that I’ve brought anything 🙂
We found our friends who were already queuing, they’d been for long time already. We were not expecting to see so many people in such a small space but more than the 600 from the village were either queuing for some food (not very Italian I have to say, usually you find people trying to skip you to be first – if you’ve been to Italy you should know it) or already stuffing their faces. Our friends had already been queuing for 45 minutes or so & there were more minutes to come.
Fortunately there was music playing in the background entertaining us. Though it wasn’t the kind you would find in our own top ten genre lists, it was definitely different and interesting, especially for Dale who was hearing this more localized music for the very first time.
One hour of queuing later and it was finally time to order some food, it was getting late and our tummies were complaining – very loudly too (embarrassing moments!).
The menu included what would have been a very traditional Sunday meal in this area:
- some very typical ‘orecchiette’ pasta with some meaty tomato sauce (I’m not talking about the ketchup of course, that will never happen in Italy and you have to believe me on this)
- a piece of ‘braciola’ – veal rolled up with hard cheese, black pepper & herbs in the middle, cooked in the same sauce used to dress the pasta
- few ‘polpette di pane’ which have the same shape of meatballs but are made of bread, eggs, Parmesan cheese and some other secret ingredients (no way I’m going to tell you!)
- a glass of ‘vino rosso’ – it couldn’t have gone wrong with this homemade, full-bodied red wine (very tasty indeed) that also got us slightly tipsy.
- a slice of watermelon to close the whole meal and refresh your mouth after such a rich dinner.
Surprisingly there was no dessert available, shame for Dale’s sweet tooth. Probably for the better considering how filling the supper was going to be!
We managed to find some spaces to sit down and, almost without saying ‘Buon Appetito’, we dug in our food to quieten all four of our bellies.
The food was delicious, fresh and very tasty. In the end, queuing that long had been worth it, BELIEVE US! 🙂
We couldn’t help ourselves doing ‘scarpetta’ – this is how people from the area call the gesture of cleaning your plate (if there is anything left) with a piece of bread.
There is also a local saying that states that if you do clean your plate properly without leaving any traces of food, no even one crumb, your children will be very beautiful.
No doubts for us there. If that old saying was true and we came to have children, they not only would have been beautiful, but THE MOST beautiful if the perfect job we did to our plates that night was anything to go by (a little confession here: we do it all the time, not only on that occasion, we love our food!).
A bit of folk music & dance too
The music didn’t stop even for a minute, now there were people dancing typical folk dances such as ‘tarantella’ and ‘pizzica salentina’ characterized by a fast upbeat tempo accompanied by tambourines.
Everybody was joining in, professional dancers and not, and they all looked like they were really enjoying themselves! It was quite a passionate dance, it was danced almost for the entire length of the song whilst people were embracing their dancing partner (generally of the opposite sex, there were few exceptions though due the lack of ladies or gentlemen dancing, or for different reasons, I’ll let your imagination to figure out which these could be!)
The rhythm got us too and we found ourselves clapping hands and/or tapping feet to keep the time to the music, some of us even tried to learn a few moves and join in (needless to say that Dale was the first of course). HARD & FUNNY TIMES!
The atmosphere was very joyful, I was quite surprised how people can enjoy themselves with just a little food & music, and apparently some of them were looking forward to that night for quite a while.
We heard that the party went on until late after we left with our satisfied faces and bellies!
We couldn’t ask for more 🙂