Puglia is a region in Southern Italy bordering the Adriatic Sea in the east, the Ionian Sea to the southeast, and the Strait of Òtranto and Gulf of Taranto in the south. Its most southern portion, the Salento peninsula, forms a high heel on the boot of Italy.
The official national language (since 1861) is Italian. However, as a consequence of its long and varied history, other historical languages have been spoken in this region for centuries such as the Bari dialect, a Sicilian language called Tarantino and Salentino, a dialect of modern Greek called Griko, a rare dialect of the Franco-Provençal language called Faetar, and finally, the Arbëreshë dialect of the Albanian language.
The cuisine of Puglia was born as the cuisine of poverty. For instance, pasta was made without eggs, and bread was made from the hard-grain durum wheat flour that flourishes locally. The Pugliese diet is based on vegetables, including wild varieties such as cicorielle, wild chicory, and lampascioni. Meat is rarely eaten and beef, until a few years ago, was almost unknown on Pugliese tables.
The food of Puglia can be characterized as home-based cuisine, not marked by the influence of great chefs or restaurants, and is heavily based on Pugliese olive oil, one of the great products of the region. In any given year, Puglia produces as much as two-thirds of all the olive oil in Italy.