Loide, Tricase and Farmacia Balboa

«If I’m not in love, I don’t cook: vegetables can tell if they’re loved by the person massaging them»

15-08-2015
What has always been a chemist’s in Piazza Pisan

What has always been a chemist’s in Piazza Pisanelli in Tricase, became a lovely cocktail-bar with cold food in 2014, which the three partners named Farmacia Balboa, tel. +39.0833.772585. In the photo by Cosimo Cortese we can see one of them, wine producer Francesco Winspeare. The other two are a director, Taylor Hackford, and restaurateur Mauro Arena. Left Loide Pappadà, the raw-diet chef working at Balboa as of this year

I’m not a cook, I don’t even use fire. I’m a masseuse. Yet ten years ago in London I soon discovered the use of hands in the kitchen. When I returned to my homeland, Salento, close to Leuca, five years ago, fate made sure this summer I’d be behind the bar at Farmacia Balboa in Tricase. More salads. People like them so here I am telling my story.

It’s all about energy, even in the kitchen. Salads are good when the vegetables forming it have a good energy. I prefer them in season because they capture the energy of the moment in which they are naturally born.

It all starts from this reasoning. When I dish out a salad I don’t think, my hands work by themselves, following their own order. I often tell people who know me that I don’t cook when I’m not in love. It’s funny but it’s true. When I’m happy and calm, dishes taste better.

Atlantic bonito, borlotti beans and red onion
Atlantic bonito, borlotti beans and red onion
Home cooking is often considered tastier because it is what your mother or grandmother prepare, people who put love in it. They’re not the only ones: even a professional chef has a winning point when he uses all of his passion.

When on Sundays my mother used to make homemade pasta or bread, if the dough was too hard she would give it to me so I would fix it, as my hands were warm and strong. If, however, I overworked it, she’d complain I had made it too hot, see? This is how I ended up saying that cooking is another holistic therapy.

This summer I divide myself between my office and the kitchen at Balboa. I lived in England until almost 5 years ago. After many different jobs I ended up in a kitchen, by chance. They were cooking lots of meat, there was only one chef, specialised in French fine dining, but I believed something was missing.

Smoked salmon salad with avocado, radishes, mixed leaves and olives in the photo by Cosimo Cortese

Smoked salmon salad with avocado, radishes, mixed leaves and olives in the photo by Cosimo Cortese

He didn’t love vegetables just like I don’t love meat. This is how my experience with raw, coloured, healthy, steamed, light and creative food began.

Ever since I’ve been here at Balboa I’ve been doing what I’ve chosen as my main job, massages and natural therapies. I go looking for flowers and plants that are as little contaminated as possible and use them to make oil, soap and unguents. And once again chance led me to this kitchen, in a place established in the summer of 2014 where once was a chemist’s. Here I returned to think about a fresh and light menu, made of all sorts of salads.

Finally, the recipe for a salmon salad the Marchi’s love and, luckily, they’re not the only ones. As for the ingredients, you need to consider a transparent glass bowl. As the basis, use iceberg salad, or better still fresh spinach leaves when in season, as well as radicchio, rocket salad, diced avocado, 3 sliced radishes, 3 tomatoes from Tricase left as a whole on the sides, 8 capers – if possible, also from Tricase – 3 olives from Puglia put in the space left between the tomatoes, smoked Scottish or Norwegian salmon. As for the dressing, it is made with mustard seeds, lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil by wine and oil producer Francesco Winspeare, one of the partners of Farmacia Balboa, pink Himalaya salt and white pepper. As for the final decoration, on top of the salmon add some freshly ground pepper and, if you find it, some dill to contrast the colour of the salmon.