Discover Puglia's Culinary Delights With A Local Tour Guide

When you join up with YL Tours, you're not just visiting Puglia as a tourist, you are participating as a local immersed in some of the many day-to-day pleasures of living in this region. YL stands for Ylenia, the wonderful Puglian lady who graciously hosts your choice of experiences. One fine example is her fully hands-on "Cucina Povera," small-group cooking lessons that fully immerse you in every stage of meal preparation. This is "peasant cooking" at its finest, using local ingredients whenever possible. Here's Mama Julia on her country estate demonstrating how to make apple/quince pie from scratch.

Start your day in the village's piazza with your assigned "Mama" over a cappuccino and pastichiotto. Then it's off to the fresh market to gather ingredients for the cooking ahead.

Beyond cooking classes, you can join YL Tours' exploration of local wineries as well as artisan food producers of cheese, olive oil, and specialty pastries.

Witness fresh ricotta and mozzarella made by hand in Gocce di Latte's open kitchen in Lecce Italy without animal enzymes. Sunflower or wheat enzymes are used instead.

Did you know that 50 percent of Italy's olive oil comes from Puglia? I tasted similarities between Azienda Agricola Taurino's olive oils and fine wine... buttery and lower on the tannins. This is because their olive oils are often sourced from centenarian olive trees.

Even if you're not planning a Puglia visit anytime soon, you can adopt an olive tree for $130 and get 5 liters shipped to your doorstep.

It's impossible to visit Puglia without experiencing pastichiotto, a light golden brown pastry crust shell artfully filled with egg cream. A classic Sunday tradition for locals is to attend church and then enjoy a family dinner which always includes pastichiotto. Here's Lecce's top pastry chef Luca Capilungo making pastichiotto in his kitchen.

According to Cantele Winery's Paolo Cantele, wine tourism in Puglia is increasing because the region offers the most favorable growing conditions. Despite the phylloxera set back in the 1930s, Puglia still has some of Italy's oldest vines. Cantele's newly opened Cinasthetic Laboratory hosts events like presentations and features artwork of local artists.