Impossible to speak of Puglia and Apulian cuisine without referring to the gold of this land: theextra virgin olive oil.
The Apulian culture and the landscape itself are strongly influenced by the millenary presence of the majestic olive groves and their fruits, of which ancient peoples such as the Messapi, the Dauni, the Greeks and the Romans were admirers, growers and traders, transporting them in amphorae across the Mediterranean .
Traveling in Puglia also means traveling through long symmetrical expanses of olive groves divided by dry stone walls and on terraced hills (such as those between Mattinata and Monte Sant'Angelo) where man's activity of modifying the hilly profile to increase the cultivable area has created terraces in which the olive trees seem to overlook the spectacle of the coast and the sea of the Gargano.
The production of oil has established itself over the centuries as one of the peculiar aspects of Puglia in terms culturalsocial and symbolic.
Agriculture, architecture, cuisine, crafts, tourism: everything is strongly linked to these millenary giants and what they represent.
From the Ulivo he not only obtains olives and EVO oil, used as a base for most of the regional dishes, as a condiment and also to preserve vegetables and small fish.
The precious wood is used to produce handcrafted objects and furniture as well as to feed the ancient wood-burning ovens.
The use of olive tree derivatives to produce natural cosmetics is also gaining ground recently.
The use of extra virgin olive oil is widespread throughout Italy, thanks to the nutritional properties of this healthy condiment, rich in oleic acid, carotenes and vitamin E.
La Puglia is the largest oil producer in Italy, boasting firsts for both amount that for quality.
There are over 50 million olive trees in Puglia, from which different oils are obtained, depending on the type of "Cultivar" used for the production of the olives, the territory in which it is produced and the processing method used.
The different "cultivars" are spread in different ways on the Apulian territory: in Vieste and on Gargano we mainly find theOgliarola Gargano, a fruity oil with a slight almond aftertaste, also suitable for fish dishes, seafood and salads. Widespread especially in the Foggia area and in the Bari area is the prized one Coratin, tending towards purplish, with a fruity and slightly spicy flavour.
On the Monti Dauni, at about 500 meters above sea level, we find excellent olive groves of the Coratina and Ogliarola cultivars which guarantee an excellent oil production among which the oil from the Antico Frantoio Ingegno stands out, one of the "European Excellences" registered in the register of Excellence Italian as an "ambassador of Made in Italy", which can also be purchased directly online in the organic version.
Cima di Mola, as well as Olivastra and Leccina, on the other hand, are spread between the provinces of Bari and Brindisi, in the reign of the trulli.
The flavor of these olives is influenced by the place of maturation: averagely fruity if grown on the coast, as in the beautiful sea bottoms between Polignano, Monopoli, Fasano and the ancient Egnazia, while the one coming from the olive groves of the Itria valley, such as those of Alberobello, Cisternino and Ostuni.
Widespread in Salento instead are the Ogliarola Leccese and the Cellina di Nardò.
Then there is the manufacturing process, which begins with the care of the often centuries-old olive trees, and then proceeds with the harvesting, milling, extraction and bottling.
The processing is often carried out with ancient techniques such as cold pressing which allows the organoleptic characteristics of the oil to be kept unaltered, preserving the quantity of minerals, vitamins and other substances which make the extra virgin olive oil valuable.
Even today it is possible to find evidence of the culture linked to the cultivation of Apulian oil, for example by visiting an oil mill or the Trappeto Museum in Vico del Garganoby participating in an event such as “Oil week” or simply tasting it on a slice of bread.