Roman cuisine, of heart and anarchy
Capital since the day of its foundation, Roma should have an aristocratic and refined cuisine. But no. Accustomed to the looming presence of the powerful, stimulated by a disenchanted and sharp character, the Romans have traveled the road of the opposition, waving the banner of a slightly anarchic simplicity, heavily enemy of the glories of the court. So here a kitchen ostensibly popular, even common people, committed to reiterate its proletarian and laic simplicity against the beribboned taste of the mighty. A submissively revolutionary and overtly ironic cuisine, as the verses of Pasquino, and that in the heat of desecration has indulged in some disorderly and “caciarona” approximation.
In a state governed by the Pope, the cuisine of contestation could only be Jewish, anti-clerical by definition. And still today the Jewish cuisine is perhaps the most important and genuine guardian of Roman culinary tradition. Stimulated by strong attachment to their ethnic and faithful to their religious traditions so connected with the supply, the Jews restaurateurs of the Portico of Octavia and streets around the synagogue are the true custodians of the oldest City tradition. Go and find them: will offer the Jewish style artichokes, the famous “mothers” Roman turned into wonderful amber and crisp flowers and the cold red mullet with raisins and pine nuts.
But before they will propose you the ancient pasta and broccoli with fish stock. The canonical fish for this dish is the “arzilla” (ray), the right format for pasta is the stortino, sort of curved small tubes that the Romans actually called “angel cocks”, that I quote demonstrating how I argued about irony and irreverence.
Speaking of Roman cuisine, however, the thoughts turn to the important contributions made by the ancient immigrants from Abruzzo, intimately linked to Rome and to his table from the mists of time. Amatrice, home dell’amatriciana, today is a town in the Lazio region, he was once in Abruzzo. His emigration from one side of the border is about to prove that trade between the two regions are so narrow as not limited to “abbacchi” and pecorino cheese, but they are got to the point of involving entire cities. Romanized and partially merged with the “ciociara” cuisine, the Abruzzo became the “burina (hick) cuisine” (from butter, also coming from the mountains of Laga and the Gran Sasso) and has set the foundation of authentic Roman tradition.
Triumph of the burina cuisine are the spaghetti amatriciana (see), to be prepared according to the guidelines of the Pro Loco of Amatrice with olive oil, bacon, white wine, tomato, chili and cheese. Close relatives of this dish are the spaghetti (or rigatoni) alla gricia (or marchiciana) prepared as amatriciana but in white, with the exclusion of the tomato.
From the double-source abruzzese-ciociara also come the rigatoni with sheep sauce, the pasta with chickpeas rosemary-scented and the “calascioni”, calzone stuffed with cheese, eggs, beets and wild vegetables.
The wild herbs stuffing the calascioni are the same that are called misticanza when, in the spring, are consumed by the ton by the Romans, raw in salads, as a garnish ideal dell’ “abbacchio a scottadito (finger burn)”. It is just the lamb (“abbacchio” in the Lazio) the absolute ruler of the hick kitchen. If you are lucky, you can find excellently prepared in his “trattoria” recipes : stew with artichokes or baked Roman style. Do not forget either the prime rib, which will offer you quickly cooked on the grill and eat very hot in “scottadito”, or breaded and fried with artichokes. Besides the jewish and the hick, the traditional Roman cuisine is supported by other gastronomic columns of equal importance: the “macellara” (butcher style) and the town.
Macellara cuisine is synonym for the famous “fifth quarter”. The quarter of a beast can not be more than four, it’s so all over the world, but not in Rome, where everything is plausible, possible, questionable, even mathematics. Where they end up the four muscolar quarters of the beast for the slaughter, those well lean and welcome to our present taste, begins the Roman festival of the fifth quarter, ie all those wastes of butchery who make shudder the fans of the lean paillard and fill of joy the trasteverini. Pajata is the small intestine of veal or lamb still full of its content of chyme. You eat roast or with tomato sauce, with rigatoni, under an avalanche of pecorino. The sweetbreads are the thymus and lymph glands of the live animal. After slaughter, they become the protagonists of the mixed fry Roman style, along with artichokes and brains.
The ox tail all know what it is, but better than you know it certainly the regolanti, people in the neighborhood of Regola, on the left bank of the river, in front of Trastevere. Do you think they are called “magnacode” (oxtail eaters) for their devotion to the oxtail, if you want to taste this specialty, now you know where to look. If you do not shudder, I can tell you that the review of the specialties from the fifth quarter continues with the spleen, kidneys, the torcioli (pancreas), grains (testicles), the backs (spinal cord), the offal (the thoracic viscera of the lamb). Even to the fifth quarter of the chicken are reserved great honors. The giblets are the key ingredient of the sauce for the fettuccine Roman style and the filling up of rice supplì according to the older recipe.
More modern are the famous supplì on the phone, so called because, the mozzarella (provatura in the Lazio region) of which are filled “string” during the tasting and the wire between the mouth and supplì should remember that of the phone. To those who love the pig remember just outside the door, to the Castelli, it is celebrated every hour the unmissable rite of the sandwich with porchetta.
The last pillar of Roman cuisine is exquisitely citizen, related to love for spaghetti and born in the trattorias of Testaccio, Trastevere, of the Rioni Monti and Regola. Spaghetti alla checca (with raw tomato and fennel seeds), cheese and pepper, garlic oil and chilli pepper, with anchovies, alla carrettiera, carbonara, these specialties of the lodging “spaghettaro”, tare he most recent purchase of the complex Roman tradition. It could not be otherwise. More than any other pasta, the spaghetti respond to the requirement that the Roman cuisine, despite the complexity of its history, has always required a plate: the commoner simplicity.
So it was also for the desserts, all simple, proletarians, almost humble. The pan di Spagna soaked in liqueur and covered with cream (English soup Roman style), the ciambellette mixed with the wine, the Roman pangiallo, a simple sweet bread, poor and distant relative of those highly elaborate of northern Italy. Romans sweets, simple and fast, too rustic for the Italian taste, remained discreetly hidden in homes, in the few remaining authentic taverns and patisseries most popular patisseries. All except the most humble, who won national fame in spite of its austerity, is the maritozzo or Lenten, declaring all its austerity already in the names: it was the gift that the engaged couple (hence “maritozzo”) donated to future brides to sweeten the sad period of Lent.
And they succeeded, If it is true that the girlfriends enjoy watering them with the white wines of the Castelli, so delicate and so drinkable to be able to distract the girls from the sadness of the days of the Passion.
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