One blustery Autumn evening in the backstreets of Mayfair, I heard the beat of a tambourine dancing on the air. When I near La Masseria, I see people spilling out onto the streets, chattering like sparrows at dusk. I hear Puglian dialect too; ‘Mena!‘ My friend from Lecce smiles and we step through the threshold into a heaving crowd of well-heeled Italians seeking a taste of home.
Since my trip to Puglia I have often passed La Masseria on Upper Berkley Street, W1, and longed to go in to discover what parts of the region I could find in London. This evening was finally my chance.
Hosting an Aperitivo event, La Masseria offered festive Mulled Wine, soft drinks, taralli (see my recipe here!), foccacia and other bits and bobs to satisfy post-work hunger. Antipasti, pastries and other tasty dishes were on the menu. Wines from Salento to Sicily, taralli and jarred goods lines the walls. I’ll definately be coming back to La Masseria. And the soundtrack to the evening? A London-based Italian folk band hailing from Puglia; Amaraterra who gave us LIVE Pizzica right in the heart of Central London – what a rarity!
In a city such as London where you find the whole world on a metro system, Italian culture is poorly represented in terms of folk music. Sebastian Merrick of Kazum (Facebook page here.) hosted a night with la Paranza del Geco in 2010 but aside from that event, I have never found live Italian folk music outside of Italy. In fact even in Italy folk music is hard to find, unless of course you are in Puglia. Finally, Amaraterra have emerged out of Italy’s diaspora to transport us cultural magpies to the deep South of Italy. We danced, we sang along. The party spilled out onto the Mayfair streets where we continued to dance the pizzica to fend off the chilly evening wind. (Follow Amaraterra on Facebook here!)
For more news on Italian London and future Aperitivo events check out ItalianLondon.co.uk or ItaliansofLondon.com. FriendsofPuglia (Facebook page here) are very much worth keeping an eye on for London events and networking, cultural info and hopefully (hint hint, nudge nudge!).. Pizzica dance lessons!