Fresh Pampanelle: for over 50 years the typical finger food on Taranto beaches
We re-publish an article that appeared a while ago on the website www.madeintaranto.org to draw attention to Pampanelle, an ancient, fresh and authentic food produced in an artisanal way by many local farms and then sold on the beaches in the province of Taranto.
Hearing the words fresh Pampanelle from walking vendors, our grandparents and parents would run to buy at least two of three p’ piccinn (for children) which were lighter a version of the food. Pampanelle were available at the beach thanks to intrepid vendors who under a burning sun would bring them wrapped in fig leaves that ensured their freshness despite the torrid July and August.
“Pampanelle… fresh Pampanelle…” is a call that is still heard today on the beaches in the province of Taranto. The person selling them is sometimes also the one who made them and now brings them in an insulated bag - as opposed to a simple basket or unrefrigerated plastic pail in the past – to allow us to continue to enjoy this authentic Made in Taranto specialty food.
Pampanella is a fresh cheese that can be made from various types of milk (cow, sheep or goat’s). It is soft and delicate and melts in your mouth. Its name derives from pampino or pompano, which refers to the fig leaf in which it is wrapped. It is made by pasteurizing the milk, letting it coagulate with vegetable rennet and then wrapping it in a wet fig leaf. The contact between the cheese and the fig leaf are what give it an unmistakable sweet aroma and slightly bitter flavor.
Pampanella is an eco-sustainable, local product made in totally natural trays since the 18th century (some claim it is much older, even prehistoric) on farms in the province of Taranto.