The Secrets of Roman Cuisine: Simple and Less is More
By Valeria Bianchini
Shopping at local Roman food markets for fresh produce
Before wearing our aprons and turning on the stove, many Italians start at the local food market to buy fresh produce. It’s not simply shopping for food. It’s more of a ritual. Through time, you learn to select the vendors that best suit your needs and standards. They are people you see and interact with at least twice a week. I go to Maria or Luigi when I need fruit and vegetables because they have local, organic produce. Antonio handmakes fresh burrata and mozzarella everyday and can customize the shape or size according to what I need. Carlo has told me all about the flours and the sour dough they use to make their breads. Gianni is the person I go to when I need great wine and suggestions when pairing it with food. It’s just so important for us to put names, faces and stories to the ingredients we buy and use daily.
Quality: The secret ingredient of Roman cuisine
I live in Rome and I simply adore Roman cuisine. “Simple and less is more”. I think this perfectly sums up what our local dishes are all about. We use few, simple ingredients when preparing the traditional recipes. Amatriciana (tomato sauce, guanciale, pecorino), Cacio e Pepe (pecorino, salt, pepper), Carbonara (egg, guanciale, pecorino), Saltimbocca (meat, prosciutto, sage). I could go on and on. The point is that with such few ingredients, quality is what makes the difference. So paying attention to what you buy, where it comes from, how it has been grown or raised turns out to be the most important “ingredient” itself. Thank you Maria, Luigi, Antonio, Carlo and Gianni for your hard work.
Cooking as Romans do
What I cook pretty much depends on how much time I can spend in the kitchen prepping, cooking and cleaning. When my day is free, I like to make fresh pasta from scratch and use my mom’s super simple recipe: 100gr durum wheat flour and 1 egg per person. Gnocchi alla Romana – made with semolina, milk, parmigiano, butter and egg yolks – is my favorite comfort food that I prepare in advance and then bake in the oven just before dinner. Prosciutto crudo and mozzarella are my options when I have no time at all but don’t want to miss out on the flavors and quality.
Local ingredients, in season fruits and vegetables, quality extra virgin olive oil and that is pretty much all you need when preparing a genuine Roman dish.
Simple and less is more