Culinary and Shepherding

August 27th – Sept 3rd 2018

FOR THE LOVE OF FOOD AND THE LANGUAGE OF LANDSCAPE – 8 days of immersive learning and beauty. This workshop goes to the core of the people and the love for their food and land.

Photo credit images 4-9 Floor van Dinteren

Share meals and laughter with your fellow travellers and locals in the exchange of knowledge, ideas and traditions.
Go to the roots of the gastronomical knowledge passed on by generations of shepherds, farmers, cheesemakers, bakers, fishermen and the guardians and storytellers of the hearths.  This a dynamic and interactive workshop which involves you with locals to understand the land, the limestone belly of south, which produces a cuisine that is a compendium of flavours of earth and sun.

Explore the southern Italian food culture shaped by millennia of migrations on the paths of transhumance and the trading route of the ancient Via Appia, from the farmlands to the Mediterranean coasts.  

Learn about and cook with, the fundamentals of southern Italian cuisine- Olive oil, wine, durum wheat flour, cheese and seasonal produce. How it is grown, harvested, produced, and cooked. Cook, eat and enjoy it with the community who makes sitting down for meals an important part of their everyday.

Cheese making – Taste the giuncata (the first cheese of the morning) and make pecorino,ricotta, mozzarella, scamorza and burrata. Find out about natural rennets, and how to form and age cheese. Cook and prepare today’s lunch. Trek the pastures alongside the shepherd at his meditative pace, while learning of his plight to preserve his way of life, and lunch in the fields with his family.  

At the foot of the Calanchi in the centenarian groves, distinguish a good olive oil, it’s properties, olive cultivars, and harvest through tastings and talks.  Make the renowned Altamura bread, learn about the mother dough and the crunchy crust, and tour the fortified town.

Hit the streets with pots, burners, and baskets of pomodori, melanzane and rucola to cook and prepare dinner for the locals. The butcher will be with us to give guidance on meat cuts and make salsiccia together- Dinner alfresco. Each participant invites a guest from the street. 

Follow the Appian Way through the durum wheat fields and learn about grain varieties, traditional pasta, and as the sun sets eat dinner by candlelight in the company of frescoes in a rupestrian church. Walk through the mazes of Matera, a Unesco World Heritage site, discover its cave culture history, art exhibitions, and dinner on the piazza: cruschi peppers, cheeses, cured meats, pizzas, artichokes and wines.  We’ll travel through the white-washed towns, red oxide terra and drystone walls of the Itria Valley to reach and inhale the blue Adriatic coast. Take the time for a swim and sunbathe. Grill octopus on the terrace overlooking the cove, while the fisherman makes a dish from an old family recipe – he is very excited about cooking and sharing his home with us. 

Walk the land of the masserie, the fortified farmhouses and cave settlements that represent in Puglia the sum of labor, bounty and beauty.

Photo credit images 12-15 Floor van Dinteren

The venerated cuisine of the Mediterranean has been created and re-created through the course of history by geography, social customs, migration and the mythical universe wrapped around ‘eating’. The food culture is inclusive of ‘life style’ which upholds traditional methods of farming and fishing and nurtures the practice of family meals, and social festivities.

The workshop is led by Puglian native Tonio Creanza, the Founder and Director of Messors and 6th generation olive oil and durum wheat producer, along with his colleagues of local farmers, cheese makers, shepherds, historians, restauranteurs, etc.

Tonio grew up on his family farm tending to durum wheat, vineyards and olive tree cultivation in the historical and archeological rich setting of Puglia. As a cultural heritage conservator and 6th generation olive oil producer, his knowledge and passion for food and history is echoed in the workshops he has been running for the past 25 years. The hands-on and in-situ approach of the workshops creates an enriching living school model and culturally connecting experiences for travelers and locals.

While tracking the darting flock as it chows down on the erba medica and centofoglie plants dotted among the ochre-hued moonscape of tufo limestone, our cameras soon fall to our waists as we adopt the shepherd’s Zen-like mindset. We join him foraging for wild rocket, while engulfed with the aroma of fennel and thyme.

Lucy Hyslop, National Geographic Traveller UK - Messors Culinary & Shepherding Retreat
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