Rusticoadj: Rustic; rural; of or relating to the country. noun: a baked savory snack made from puff pastry stuffed with bechamel, bits of mozzarella, black pepper, and a hint of tomato; the quintessential snack in southern Puglia.

In Lecce and Salento, the rustico is to savory treats what the puccia is to bread and pasticcio to is to pastries. This flakey, heavy disk is prepared in bakeries or sold at bars and caffes where it is eaten as a mid-morning, late afternoon, or late night snack. On my first trip to Lecce, I ate one at each of these snack intervals and, while not recommended by doctors, this approach is satisfying. My first stop in Lecce is always at Alvino in Piazza Sant’Oronzo for a quick rustico, eaten standing up at the bar to burn an extra 5 calories while I devour the dense, rich leccese hot pocket.