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  • Writer's pictureGary Mack

Pulgia and Pulia - Tonight we cook!

Today we relax in Monopoli with some home cooked food.Lunch is easy. Lots of bits and bobs that we have bought over the last few days - prosciutto crudo, salami picante, taleggio cheese, gorgonzola cheese and a tomato, basil and mozzarella salad.All washed down with a glass of local negroamaro. Delicious!

It's a little early to go shopping for dinner goodies, so we relax on the roof top until about 4ish. Shopping in Monopoli is an adventure, although the fruit stalls still scare me a little. There seems to be so many rules, some allow you to help yourself, some won't let you touch, especially in the supermarkets - I have been told off a few times! I prefer the help yourself type.

Shopping here is very traditional. You have the butchers, the bakers, the fruit shops, the fish shops, the cheese shops, the cold meat shops, you even have the horse meat shop! I have yet to buy anything  from the horse butcher. I really want to.

I was hoping to be cooking a lot more on this holiday but for some reason it has not happened. To be honest I think it has been too hot.We buy loads of veg - the most beautiful figs, artichokes, tomatoes, lemon and salad. We decide to cook the artichokes.

Jonathan prepares the artichokes, cutting the tips down to the softer more edible leaves, then he scoops out the fluffy (what some call the choke) part, he slices them in half. Each half gets to enjoy a little bath in some water with lemon squeezed in to it. This gives you time to leisurely prepare the rest. If you don't they will discolour very quickly.

I then fry the artichokes on a low heat, cut side down, with a little garlic. As the garlic starts to colour, I add a small glass of water and turn the flame to a medium heat. The water boils and reduces. When the water evaporates, I add some wine (just a glass I don't want to drown then, I want them to catch on the bottom a little when the wine evaporates). I check that they are done with a fork along the way. You can par boil them first but I like the flavour of the oil and garlic in the water.

While they bubble away, I get on with the pasta sauce. We bought some sausages from the shop, so I will use them in the sauce.

I squeeze the sausage meat from the casing and fry the little balls in some garlic oil. Once cooked they hold together better. Two tins of cherry tomatoes go in to the pot.  I love these little beauties.

I don't add any seasoning, because the sausage is seasoned and I want to add some sun-dried tomatoes at the end. I think both of these flavour will add to the seasoning nicely!

I always think that canned tomatoes taste far better when cooked for a long time. It takes a good hour to get the juices to turn into a thick pasta sauce. It's a good thing we were not too hungry and happy to eat late.

The artichokes are delicious. So meaty, so sweet, a squeeze of lemon to sharpen the flavour and a little sprinkling of salt brings all the flavours together. Perfect if you don't mind me saying so. There is something primitive about the look of an artichoke, something ancient. I always think about Caravaggio and Rome when I eat artichokes.

The pasta sauce needs more time and I decide we are a little bit hot and bothered in the house. I turn the sauce off and we head out for a cocktail (the joys of being on holiday), with the view to returning in an hour or so to eat.

One cocktail turns into four! Monopoli surprises us yet again. The big bands are in town. It is wonderful to see the town so busy. These guys (male and female) are amazing. Its too good to miss. We can't go home now! Another cocktail it is...

It's great fun watching them strut their stuff! The songs are so cheesy - Mama Mia, Just Another Brick in the Wall, The Eye of the Tiger..

A lovely couple sit next to us. Their names are Angela and Romain. We chat about the Monopoli dialect and how mad it is (Angela is from Monopoli) the oddest part is that they live next door to us in the historic centre! We are four cocktails down and think its best to head home. Both Angela and Romain agree to call it a night. Angela asks if it would be OK to pop in to our apartment and see how things have changed. She is amazing. She tells us what the apartment used to look like. More importantly she points out that the kitchen used to be where the shower is now. 

So it is now time to say good night. We haven't managed to eat the pasta sauce it was too late. Angela however has a taste test and she's shocked. It turns out that the sausage has whole dried chilies in it. We shall be having it for lunch tomorrow! 

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