Food to chew

Teresa Buongiorno overcomes the reluctance to speak about herself and tells us the story of her cuisine

The complete Buongiorno family: while in the Fifti

The complete Buongiorno family: while in the Fifties, osteria Sotto l'arco served wine and a few simple dishes, today, two generations later, Già sotto l'arco, tel. +39.0831.996286, has become an elegant restaurant inside an Eighteenth century palace overlooking Carovigno’s main square. Teresa Galeone, wife of Teodosio Buongiorno, explains us the philosophy that lies in her recipes

A restaurant, we were saying. In fact, we wanted to keep our origins visible in the sign and this is why Già sotto l’arco was born as an osteria, this is the way in which, my husband and I, wanted to carve our past, to which we owe everything that we are today – that is to say on the sign placed on the facade of this Eighteenth century palace that has always been our house. This is how it all began. Starting from the “small” osteria owned by my husband Teodosio Buongiorno’s grandparents, under the arch in the heart of Carovigno’s ancient village.

Crispy mullet fillets with pistachios on a cream of asparagus

Crispy mullet fillets with pistachios on a cream of asparagus

It is here that young Tosio (this is how his family and friends call him) spent his days and most of all his nights, and it was only here that I could see him. Free time? It’s always been a mirage, for both of us. We grew up among piles of hot dishes we had to serve to people from the South who worked hard and dined out not as a pleasure but because they were hungry, very much so. When other people finished their work, in other words, our own work began and we would work until late at night and we still do.

At one point, we were still kids, we realised that work was devouring our life and decided to focus on other businesses: we run away from the kitchen and the osteria, we changed activity and life. It didn’t last, however. The activity of Teodosio’s grandparents and parents recalled us back home, necessarily. Our story, quite simply, is this. The story of a family from the South, so united it would have been a crime for us not to accept the heritage and the sacrifices oozing through these walls. I believe I do not have much more to say.

Phyllo pastry basket with citrus fruits ice cream and pistachio cream

Phyllo pastry basket with citrus fruits ice cream and pistachio cream

I’ve never liked speaking about myself, and never made a mystery of it. I have nothing to show, if not my dishes and my great love for the kitchen, where I learnt to move with my own strength, without any training nor masters, by studying and working nonstop, and making mistakes too, of course, but without ever giving up. With a wealth of raw material, the miraculous raw materials of this territory, that allow me and all the cooks in Apulia a head start - I always say this.

There’s really nothing I don’t like to cook. But I am particularly keen on vegetables, thanks to their decisive and delicate character. I like working with food as much as I enjoy eating. I study and travel as soon as I can and like to discover the cuisine of colleagues from whom I always have lots to learn.

What else can I say? In my very own opinion a chef should not be focused on media too much and the attention paid to the beauty of a dish should not over come the attention paid to its flavours: my food needs to be chewed, first of all.

Sonia Gioia edited this text

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