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Retirement Home for Food
Roasted wild hyacinth bulbs from Apulia.
Like many parts of rural Italy, Puglia, the ankle of Italy’s boot, has a tradition of serving foraged wild foods. This one in particular has a strong pull on nostalgia—spying the jar, a friend of mine born and raised in Puglia shouted, “My mother made them when I was a baby!”
A springtime treat, tiny wild tassel hyacinth bulbs (called simply “onions” on the label) the size of cherry tomatoes are bottled after being roasted al dente in a bit of extra-virgin olive oil. They have a pleasingly peppery, bitter aftertaste that swells and fades over a minute or two.
They're especially good for slow eating over the course of a late afternoon. Snack on them alongside some peperoni cruschi or a bit of Pecorino Toscano sheep’s milk cheese. Fine with a squeeze of lemon too. Or chop them and bake with a bit of water softened bread, egg, pecorino, garlic and parsley. Great for Puglians and non-Puglians alike.
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