In September, Bond fans were treated to exciting behind-the-scenes action in Matera in southern Italy as filming on No Time To Die continued. According to reports, the film has recreated the town’s famous festival, the Festa della Madonna della Bruna, which takes place every year in July. The 25th Bond film, it seems, will continue what is something of a tradition in the series of weaving the action around a local event, most recently in Spectre with Mexico’s Day of the Dead festival.
The recreation of Matera’s festival suggests that the town itself is integral to the story and won’t simply double for another location.
I don’t know how long James Bond spends in Matera, but even he must find time to eat. What would Ian Fleming have recommended? Like other parts of Italy, the town has its own culinary speciality – in this case a rustic soup or stew of grains and pulses called crapiata. It is said that the dish dates back to the ancient Roman period and I can well believe it. The Roman cookbook of Apicius includes a recipe for tisanum, a barley soup that is very similar to the modern crapiata. Today’s dish even has its own special day, 1st August, when the shops are full of jars of the stuff and presumably restaurants are serving it in quantity.
We must wait to see whether Bond tucks into the dish, but I wouldn’t be surprised if at the very least, we see bowls of the soup being carried by waiters in the background. And if in the unlikely event there’s a novelisation of the film, the author ought to mention the dish, given that Ian Fleming so often had James Bond ‘eat local’ in his novels (for example choucroute in Geneva, bouillabaisse in Marseilles (well, Bond doesn’t actually eat it, but does mention it), and doner kebab in Istanbul.
Meanwhile, for anyone wishing to try the dish for themselves, here’s a recipe that’s very simple to prepare. As might be expected, there are many variations of the dish. For example, some versions include potatoes, others don’t. I’ve decided to leave the potatoes out of my version. I recommend using tinned pulses.
- 100g Italian spelt
- 100g wheat grains
- 1.5 litres vegetable stock or water
- 1 carrot, peeled and diced
- 1 stick of celery, sliced
- 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
- 200g cooked broad beans
- 130g cooked green lentils
- 130g cooked haricot beans
- 130g cooked chickpeas
- 1 tsp finely chopped sage
- 1 tsp finely chopped parsley
- 1 tsp finely chopped rosemary
- 1 tsp finely chopped oregano
- 1 tsp finely chopped basil
- 1 bay leaf
- Salt and black pepper
- Olive oil
Heat up a tablespoon of olive oil in a large saucepan. Fry the onion, celery and carrot over a high heat for two or three minutes until the onion begins to soften. Add the beans, chickpeas, lentils and grains. Stir to mix, then pour in the stock. Add the herbs and a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Bring the stock to the boil, then reduce the heat and allow the soup to simmer for 45 minutes to an hour, stirring occasionally, until the grains are cooked. If necessary, top the soup up with more stock, but the soup should be thick and creamy and without a lot of liquid.
When ready to serve, drizzle olive oil over the top of the soup. Traditionally, the soup is accompanied by slices of toast made with a rustic loaf.