ITINERARIES, GASTRONOMY AND TRADITION: ROME, PART ONE
We are in Rome to discover what the great men who lived the Eternal city told about it. And, most important, what they tasted: here the typical dishes of the Roman cuisine
- Roma caput mundi
- Pax Romana “Roman Peace”
- Rome, the eternal city – 2772 ab Urbe Condita
- The fall of Rome
- Rome and the Church
- Rome: popes and daggers
- Rome 1700: The Grand Tour
- Republican Rome
- Dirty Rome
To avoid thrashing, and we know that the first will be our webmaster Giuliano, an explanation is necessary. So, what are we going to talk about in this article? Typical Roman recipes.
But since this is a blog and our policy is to find the link between food and culture, we present our gastronomic itineraries with a particular focus on the territory or the hometown of the culinary culture.
However, as we are going to talk about Rome, we want to do it through the words of important men who lived and deeply knew the city. For those who wish to read the recipe and the dishes directly, please check the dedicated section in the index.
“Before me, there were no created things,
Only eterne, and I eternal last.” Dante
So, we will talk about Rome before describing its typical dishes, which are also part of the culture of the city. We are going to do it through the quotes of great men and women who loved it, hated it, and some of them even made fun of it. We divided the quotations according to the historical period. How many faces of Rome we have experienced? How many Romans? Compared to the History of Rome, any small or big mishaps during human comedy will turn pale. No city has never mastered time like Rome.
April 21, 753 B.C.: the beginning with no-beginning and no-ending
“We don’t impute Rome’s troubles to the overpopulation. When Romans were only two, one killed the other”. Giulio Andreotti
“As the Emperor, Rome is my homeland; but as a man, I am a citizen of the world.” Marcus Aurelius
“You will never know anything mightier than Rome” Quintus Horatius Flaccus
“I found Rome a city of bricks and left it a city of marble.” Augustus
“Rome is the example of what happens when the monuments of a city last too long.” Andy Warhol
“When the whole world became a Roman citizen, Rome did not have citizens anymore; and when the Roman citizens became at the same time cosmopolitan they stopped loving both Rome and the world: the love for the homeland Rome becoming cosmopolitan, turned into indifference, inactivity, and void: and when Rome became like the world, it was no longer homeland for nobody and the Roman citizens having as homeland the world, they haven’t got any home left, and they proved it with facts”. Giacomo Leopardi
“Rome has spoken, the case is closed” Augustine of Hippo
“There are only the outward appearances of Cicero, Caesar and ‘Virgil’s homeland; its spirit is dead for good and the priests and the Christian superstitions that killed it…” Stendhal
“There is also a certain Michelangelo da Caravaggio, who is doing extraordinary things in Rome[…] He has already (overcome adversity to) earn reputation, a good name, and honor with his work. […] He is one who thinks little of the works of other masters, but will not openly praise his own. […] He does not study his art constantly, so that after two weeks of work he will swagger about for two months with his sword by his side and his servant-boy following him, going from one tennis court to another, always ready to argue or fight, so that he is impossible to get along with”. Karel van Mander
“Paris shall be my school. Rome my university. For it truly is a university, and once one has seen it, one has seen everything. Therefore I shall not enter it in a hurry.” Goethe
“Rome, or death”. Garibaldi
“But it was Rome that I loved, Imperial Rome, that beautiful queen wallowing in orgies, dirtying her noble robes with wine and debauchery, prouder of her vices than of her virtues. Nero! Nero with his diamond chariots flying through the arena, his thousand carriages, his tigerish loves and gigantic feasts!” Gustave Flaubert
It is a traditional Roman recipe born in the sixteenth century in the famous Jewish ghetto. It was during the Renaissance that the artichoke became a sought-after vegetable (there are even some statues).
The recipe of Carciofi alla romana (Roman-style artichokes) is mentioned in a written text of the sixteenth century, the tradition says that they should be prepared for the Kippur, the so-called Day of Atonement because it was – and this is – a period of fasting, in which one abstains long from eating, drinking and any work or entertainment. The artichokes, therefore, used to be eaten after at least 24 hours of fasting.
Carciofi alla giudia (Jewish-style artichokes) is undoubtedly a richer dish than the Roman one since the artichokes are fried, unlike the others that are stewed (of course, once the oil was precious and to fry, it was necessary a fair amount).
For both preparations are used Roman artichokes, that is the cimaroli or mammole variety, usually grown between Ladispoli and Civitavecchia. They are tender, round, and without spines. Once cooked, you can eat them entirely without waste.
For the carciofi alla giudia, once trimmed and immersed in water and lemon to avoid oxidation, just slam them against the table so the leaves will open. Place them in a pan with oil to fry for about 15 minutes.
Roman artichokes, on the other hand, are cooked in a pan with a couple of glasses of water. Place the artichokes upside down in a deep saucepan, previously filled with chopped garlic, parsley, and mint, season with oil and pepper.
Many recipes combine the egg with pasta. The first, in 1773, is by the Neapolitan Vincenzo Corrado: the egg, in his case, was used as a thickener, so the idea of carbonara was very far. The same can be said of other historical recipes. Even when it comes to pasta, the guanciale and the egg remain separate.
So what is the origin of carbonara? Apparently, it is not the legendary one, which traces it back to the Roman shepherds or charcoal burners (carbonai in Italian), from which someone says that the name derives.
Probably, in fact, the carbonara was born with the American soldiers in the years of the Second World War. The “cacio e ova” (literally cheese and eggs) from the Abruzzo region merged with the eggs and bacon of the typical Anglo-Saxon breakfast.
Renato Gualandi, a chef from Bologna, based in Riccione in 1944, told (in a never denied anecdote) that he prepared the carbonara for the first meeting between the generals of the English Eighth Army and those of the American Fifth Army: “To give more aroma – said Gualandi – I added pepper at last ». From Riccione, he moved to Rome, always following the occupation armies. The name “carbonara,” on the other hand, appears for the first time in the 1951 film “Cameriera bella presenza offresi …”.
The ingredients are notorious: eggs, garlic, oil, salt, spaghetti, and guanciale (bacon).
Each of these pasta dishes deserves a separate discussion. And yet, we can say that it is one big family, of which cacio e pepe, gricia, and amatriciana represent variants on the same score (in a way, from the gricia derive both amatriciana and carbonara). Thus, from the cacio e pepe (pecorino cheese, spaghetti, and pepper) derives the gricia, which includes the addition of guanciale. If the tomato is added to the gricia, you get the amatriciana, while if you add the egg, you will have the carbonara. This is to simplify (the types of cheeses used vary), but each of them has its own story that would be worth telling – and we’ll do it soon.
The pajata are the entrails of the suckling calf, specifically the small intestine. After the problems with the BSE (mad cow disease), the pajata was outlawed. Fortunately, today, it is possible to eat it again according to tradition, with the chyme inside(milk during digestion).
Once the intestine has been cut into pieces, cook in a pan with extra virgin olive oil, salt, onion, celery, garlic, chili, and carrot. Brown it with white wine and then add the tomato. Let it cook for 2 hours over low heat, cook the rigatoni and then sauté in a pan with the addition of pecorino cheese.
This post is also available in: Italiano (Italian)