In order to understand better the cooking origins of Monopoli, looking up in local recipes books is not enough. We must go back trough the history since the XVIIIth century to understand how that gastronomy was focused on the masseria (farmhouse) system. It based on the close relationship between owners and farmers who protected them and gave job , instead of the farmers who thanks to the hard farmer activities provided the small community survival.
The economic crisis in the south of Italy, as bitter consequence due to the Industrial Revolution, led the rural Apulia to an economic isolation that created an irreconcilable gap between the owners and the farmers who wanted to lead less difficult lives and gain better wages.
The town searched for much labour from the countryside and migrations allowed new trade activities. The gastronomy that was linked to the historical centre was unavoidably influenced by the rural world and by the presence of the sea.
In the town, since Venetian period, fishermen practised the coast-fishing in order to avoid pirates who were easy to overlook from the three watchtowers (Torre Incina, Torre d’Orta and torre Cintola). This is the main reason why cjambotto is the best dish to represent Monopoli. It is a mix of small fish species.
Manual skills improved by heavy work in the fields, by the rich hauled-up fishing- nets, by the orecchiette mould patiently above the madia ( table) lift Monopoli cuisine on the top of Apulian gastronomy, between country and sea.