“Today we’re going to meet the woman who taught Jamie Oliver to make pasta” he said as we sped towards the capital city of Bari in Italy. Eyebrows raised, stomach rumbling – it was fair to say I was curious to discover the legendary pasta alley. “We’re also going to have the best gelato you’ll ever have”. Good times.
To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much of Bari. I’d only seen the traffic jam from the airport as we crawled out of the grey, towards the green olive tree fields. The rest of Puglia (southern Italy) had been so beautiful that I really thought Bari might be a disappointing end. I stared out of the window wondering if the magical pasta woman was real, or in fact just a touristy gimmick.
I was wrong on both counts. For a start, Bari is charming and totally different to what I imagined, but more on that another time. It’s Sunday Served, so we’re here to chat about food. On this day in Puglia, dessert took place before the main course. In my eyes, this is how most days should be. Better yet, just give me double sweets.
We stopped off at Gelateria Gentile, another ice cream parlour that our guide said was the best ever. Seemingly in a suspicious mood, I doubted her, but gracefully took on the challenge of trying the homemade dark chocolate and fresh Italian orange flavour gelato. OMG. It is divine. Definitely the best gelato of the trip. I could quite happily spoon that creamy, rich goodness into my mouth every day of the week. Until my return visit I use this photo as a treasured memory:
This is the full address (I know you’ll want to visit too): Gelateria Gentile, Piazza Federico II di Svevia 85, 70122 Bari, Italy.
If you stand with Gelateria Gentile on your left you’ll notice two archways leading the way down two chalky lanes. Choose the archway furthest to the right – it’s the lower arch of the two. This leads to Pasta Alley. I’m not sure if this is the official name (I doubt it), but it seems appropriate.
A whole community of plump, rosy-cheeked Italian mamas hide in cute alcoves making endless amounts of fresh pasta. Some take advantage of the sun rays that manage to get past the washing lines that cross from one balcony to another. They sit next to the wooden tray of newly cut pasta, apron still tied to the waist, simply soaking up the rays. They are the sweetest and most hard working ladies. However, if you ask them they’d tell you it’s not work. It’s their hobby, their love and their home.
I nervously pause at one open doorway, not wanting to pry into their Italian homes, but equally transfixed on the creations. They nod for me to come in and I stand adoring the ease in which they make batches (some 10 kilograms of pasta per day). These lovely women can literally make any pasta you like in seconds. They roll and chop without a care in the world, and I’m told they’ve even been challenged to do it blindfolded. I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you that did it without even breaking a sweat. They’re on pasta autopilot.
The best thing about Pasta Alley is that there are no other tourists – just locals living their everyday lives. For them, this lane is the place in which they buy pasta for their restaurant or for their family dinner. It’s no big deal. It’s simply like us heading to the supermarket. The pasta-making ladies speak no English, but their smiles and discreet nods speak a thousand words in the language of the universe. Seeing is believing. If the famous chef, Jamie Oliver was taught here, you know they must really know their stuff.
I hope you enjoyed today’s Sunday Served. Let me know if you’ve been to either of these places or if you have plans to go. I’d love to hear from you. X
#SundayServed is all about worldly food and drink. Join me every Sunday for a slice of deliciousness around the globe. If you’ve got a good recipe or recommendation get in touch.