Puglia is the heel of the boot. It is a region known for it's olive oil and they don't shy away from it. The climate and cuisine is very Mediterranean. Since this region is on the coast it has a diverse influence of North Africa and Greece. The name "taralli" is thought to come from the Greek word "daratos" which refers to a style of bread. This is a non-yeast kind of bread. But the trick, the Italians say is the quality and generous amount of olive oil used to prepare them. Since olive oil is rich in this area and of some incredible quality the people of Puglia use it amply. One thing that keeps being reinforced every time I learn more and more about Italy and its gastronomy is its ability to use what is local.
When I was staying with a family from Parma we talked about the quality of the ingredients and shopping for food. Not every town, village, and region has an abundance of farmers markets, but they do have good quality grocery stores/markets. So we were discussing what products are purchased locally for her and the family. The answer I got was that most of the foods purchased come from the region of Emilia Romagna, and if they don't they come from Italy. Very few vegetables, fruits, and proteins come from other parts of Europe. That resonated with me and really made me think. When I came back to the United States I went grocery shopping and also to my weekly organic farmers market (which I love). But I was looking at all the stickers and realized my shopping cart was filled with products all over the world and I actually became a bit melancholy.
In Italy, and I speak only for Italy because I interacted and spoke with locals about this topic; they are so proud that they eat from their region and their country. They truly do a great job with eating locally! Their ability to sustain nourishment and a food system in each region of a country based on the ability of their local territory to sustain agriculture and farming is impressive to me. It is the way things have always been and should be. They create a cuisine based on their climate, their land, their traditions. And things like the taralli come to life.
These now popular aperitif snacks were known as the poor mans bread. Because when they were created in the 700's there was a big problem with a food shortage and the poor were on the verge of starvation. So with the scrapes of bread bakers began to turn them into these round little bite sized breads. To make them you mix, water, flour, salt, and olive oil. Then you can add different ingredients to flavor like more olive oil (haha), olives, fennel seeds, white wine... Overtime it became a part of the region of Puglia and now a gastronomic symbol of the cuisine of the region.