OK, this wasn't that odd...

OK, the fajitas at the movie theater in Lecce on New Year’s were not that odd…

I tried four new foods when we were in Lecce for break. I tried tongue, sea-urchins, tripe, and swordfish. The tongue actually tasted very similar to beef except that you could feel the taste buds.  Sea-urchins by themselves were much worse than I had expected but they were alright with the pasta.  Tripe was very in-between, it wasn’t good but I managed to swallow.  The swordfish was very nice, instead of having a steak like you would normally eat it, it was sliced thin, smoked, and covered in lemon juice.

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ricci (sea-urchins) are in the pasta under the fried noodles

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sea-urchins (ricci) at a fish market we went to see in Gallipoli

In the south of Italy they do appetizers a little differently. Instead of ordering a plate of meats and cheeses they will bring out a sample of a bunch of different foods that they have made that day.

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This is my plate after they brought out the appetizers in the first restaurant (La Pocina) at which we ate in Lecce. Starting from the purple coleslaw and going clockwise the foods are: large mushrooms, baked artichokes and potatoes, smaller mushrooms, eggplant. cheese with spinach, couscous with shrimp, rice and mixed sea food, and sweet peppers in the center.

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This is a set of appetizers at a restaurant (Osteria La Remesa) we went to in Cavallino.  The bowl to the left of the wine glass has trippa (tripe or organs of a cow) in it.  Thankfully the bowls did not include horse meat which we saw was being sold in a butcher shop on the way in.  At least we know why the town is called Cavallino (little horse).

On New Year’s Eve we returned to La Pocina where we had a multi-course meal which included the swordfish and the lentils with sausage (Lenticchie con Cotechino) shown below.  You are supposed to eat the lentils at midnight as part of the Italian tradition for good luck.

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Although I’ve had plenty of shrimp before, at Il Giardino Segreto in Gallipoli I had the best shrimp of my life.

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It came fresh from the market which I mentioned earlier.

Gallipoli, fish market