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Tasting Apulia: ostie piene with almonds and honey and other typical Gargano sweets

The natural beauty of Apulia region is among the most known to Italian and foreign holidaymakers. The same applies to the rich food and wine choice of the area. To be more famous are the salty preparations, such as focaccia and bowlers, but even those sugars deserve a separate chapter. Among the most particular and representative are not only the pasticciotti, but also the full hosts and the cartellate. 

The history of ostie piene

These sweets are typical of the Gargano area. The spur of Italy is in fact imbued with a distinctly religious aura, especially thanks to the presence of the famous Sanctuary of St Michael the Archangel. It is therefore not surprising that this influence is also seen in the culinary recipes. The characteristic full wafers are a delicacy, which, as often happens, is the result of a lucky mistake. In the kitchen of the Poor Clares, the dough was being prepared to create the liturgical apparatus: at the same time, one of them was mixing honey with toasted almonds. One of them slipped on a shelf and a nun, so as not to get her hands dirty, used a host to pull it off the table. The caramelised part could no longer be removed from the surface used to pick it up. Thus the idea was born to stuff two thin bread wafers with a filling made from those two ingredients, made robust and aromatic by the addition of a pinch of cinnamon.

The Christian symbolism hidden behind Puglia’s famous cartellate

Also bearing witness to the area’s Catholic tradition are the better known cartellate. These are crumpled sheets of sweet dough that are then fried in plenty of oil. They are generally served at Christmas and Easter precisely because of their characteristic shape. In fact, they look like a crown that can recall either the halo of the baby Jesus or the crown of thorns of the crucified Christ. Some, on the other hand, recognise in them a kind of ball of thread that may recall the swaddling bands that wrapped the Saviour at the moment of his birth.