Appointment with one of the most suggestive traditions of Puglia: the Tavole di San Giuseppe, or three days of celebration in Minervino di Lecce, Cocumola and Specchia Gallone, from Friday 17 to Sunday 19 March, in homage to the ancient anniversary of the day dedicated to the father of Jesus, which falls precisely on March 19th.
"Divine villages among saints, fairy tales and megaliths": this is the name of the appointment this year.
The tradition of the Tavole di San Giuseppe (or Tables of San Giuseppe) is in fact ancient and originates from the habit of the more affluent families of the town of offering their less fortunate fellow citizens the pleasure of a laden table, at least for one day. But also from the custom, for the less wealthy, of ideally entrusting themselves to St. Joseph, with this offer of food, to obtain protection. The feast of San Giuseppe was and is therefore for Minervino di Lecce and its two hamlets an opportunity to strengthen the spirit of community: a tradition that the small town a few kilometers from the sea of Otranto has never lost.
Since time immemorial, therefore, for the feast of San Giuseppe, the Tables have been staged in the Minervino area, which require the preparation of as many as 169 dishes, exactly 13 dishes for each of the 13 saints present.
All foods are part of the gastronomic tradition of Salento, an expression of seasonality: the inevitable fresh durum wheat pasta with chickpeas and cabbage, which in the local dialect is known as massa and in the hamlet of Cocumola it becomes vermiceddri, but there are also lampascioni sotto 'oil - to represent the imminent transition from winter to spring - and again pittule, boiled vegetables, cod, fried fish and much more.
The same specialties that are prepared and set up on the laden tables of many houses in Minervino and offered to the view of visitors, who can thus hear from the voice of the Minervinos themselves an ancient tradition dictated by religious devotion and the Christian virtue of charity. A "sacred" representation that reaches its climax on 19 March, when the "Tavola dei 13 Santi" (or Table of 13 Saints) is set up in the village, in which personalities from the world of politics, business and journalism from Puglia go to represent the guests at with traditional dishes.
Dishes that can be tasted at the food and wine stands set up for the festival, which this year is renewed thanks to a three-day format created by the Mercatino del Gusto thanks to which, for four years, they will try to expand the audience of pilgrims, visitors and tourists with an accurate narration of tradition, sense of community, food culture. And to seasonally adjust tourism, enhancing an area full of ancient suggestions that still goes under the name of Terra d'Otranto today.
The event is in fact organized by the Municipality of Minervino di Lecce and by the "Il Mercatino del Gusto" association as part of the project "Borghi Divini: between saints, fairy tales and megaliths", financed under the PNRR Borghi tender (Intervention 2.1 Attractiveness dei borghi line b), with funds from the European Union – NextGenerationEU, and is sponsored by the Ministry of Culture and the Puglia Region.
Tavole di San Giuseppe: Program of the three-day events
Friday 17 March at 18:00
Opening of the festival with a conference at the former Scarciglia asylum (via Sant'Angelo) on the theme "Religious traditions and food, between sacred rites and gastronomic customs".
Institutional greetings from Mayor Ettore Caroppo, Salvatore Santese, president of the Mercatino del Gusto association, and the honorable Andrea Caroppo; speakers Annarita Corrado, head teacher of the "Leonardo da Vinci" institute in Maglie, Eugenio Imbriani, professor at the University of Salento, Luciano Pignataro, food and wine journalist, Dante Sacco, cultural communicator, Vincenzo Santoro, head of the Culture, tourism and agriculture department of the Anci. Leda Cesari and Giacomo Mojoli moderate.
Saturday 18 March at 17:00
"Gustolab" at the Osteria Origano (via Giuseppina Scarciglia 18): "Traditions, or rather successful contaminations and innovations - After all, innovation is a tradition that renews itself, between aesthetics and taste".
Speakers Giacomo Mojoli, Gino Dimitri, Roberto Musarò, Antonella Pagliara; presents Michele Bruno. In the evening, instead, space for the "La Tavola dei Bambini" at the Church of Sant'Antonio organized by the "Minervino Minitown" association. At 20, instead, Gusto Folk in Piazza Umberto I with Massimiliano De Marco (voice and guitar), Luca Buccarella (voice and accordion) Giulia Piccinni (dance).
Sunday 19 March at 17:00
"Gustolab" at the Osteria Origano in via Giuseppina Scarciglia 18: "The food triad: bread, oil and wine - Indissoluble bond of the Mediterranean diet".
With Massimo Vaglio, Titti dell'Erba, Mariangela Vanessa Pepe, Emma Prunella; presents Michele Bruno. At 7pm in Piazza IV Novembre, instead, the traditional Tavola di San Giuseppe organized in collaboration with the Pro Loco Minerva association; present Leda Cesari and Domenico Carrapa. Finally, at 8 pm, music in Piazza Umberto I with Gusto folk and Giancarlo Paglialunga (voice and tambourine), Rocco Nigro (accordion), Laura De Ronzo (dance). In collaboration with Tarantarte.
On Saturday 18th from 7pm onwards and Sunday 19th from 10am to 12pm the Tavole di Minervino, Cocumola and Specchia Gallone will take place: a journey through the local culinary tradition created thanks to local families. Furthermore, from 6 pm onwards, "The flavors of Minervino", a gastronomic itinerary in via Procuratore G. Bandello with "Infused nature", "Luce d'Alba", Ortobuono Vizzino, "The Maceificio agrifattoria Put le Ali" Forno Caroppo, “N'grillo Ortofrutta”. In Piazza Umberto I, instead, space for "Il cibo di Strada", traditional street food with "Salento Chips", "Birrificio b94, "Agrimó Salento", "Salumi Baccaro".
Again on Saturday 18 and Sunday 19 March, traditional dishes prepared by the restaurants "Casanova pub", "Borgo Antico" and "Osteria Origano" (Minervino), "I Rocci Ristorante" (Cocumola), "Uccera Birra&Cucina" (Specchia Gallone).