Head Shot Photographer : Niccolò Bazzani
Blog written by: Jacqueline Greaves
Tasting Rome: Fresh Flavors & Forgotten Recipes from an Ancient City
By Katie Parla and Kristina Gill
I was really pleased to have been asked to join Stefano Albertini and Kristina Gill at the Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò at NYU to talk about one of my favorite things in the world, a cook book. – My first public event I should add- I have a varied and huge collection of cook books, including those of my Italian friends’ families from various parts of Italy, so I was really happy to add Tasting Rome to my collection and I definitely have plans for it.
It is my steadfast belief that history should not be taught through the numerous unfortunate wars or economic crises that have occurred. It hasn’t helped. It should be taught preferably through literature - think of Zola’s The Belly of Paris - but perhaps even more so through the cultural influence of food and the many elements that form a core part of that very essential – because we need to eat – but also intimate heritage. It is an eminent and poignant element in the passing down of family history, whether oral or written. Tasting Rome is a celebration of and a beautiful response to an attraction to the history of Rome’s food, but also to its people, or peoples, including newcomers like Kristina Gill, her co-author Katie Parla, and myself. They capture the essence of the streets of Rome in Kristina’s beautiful photography, and the food shots are about the varying surfaces, the authenticity, and the tickling of our senses. As you read the recipes and look at the images of a woman drinking from a fountain, ordinary people going about their day, the markets and monuments, and even strewn crates and boxes – we recognize all that make up a city, and in particular, this city. If you are going to visit Rome, I would suggest you take this along rather than a mere guidebook.
A crucial element in this book is that our two authors, both Americans living in Rome visited markets and restaurants, some not yet on the regular tourist route, but oh so familiar and important to them. There were places that I have never heard of nor seen in my 30-year love affair with Rome, and the man I stole from it. The book combines photography of the people, façades, restaurants and street food along with the typical food photography. Our authors have selected familiar dishes linked to Roman cuisine (Amatriciana, Coda alla Vaccinara), including Jewish and the newer Libyan (Tripoli) Jewish cuisine (escabeche), and show us how to recreate them in our home, even down to making guanciale. We are introduced to the old and to the modernization, or my preferred word adaptation, of these very same dishes, and even introduced to the new cocktail culture that is sweeping Rome. All of this is combined with threads of history interwoven in the chapter intros and within the recipes. They have an easiness in the manner in which they present their choices showing their obvious familiarity and comfort with the food, the people and what is essentially Roman life and la cucina romana.
A few suggestions from Tasting Rome:
Caffe Propaganda (Monti)- www.caffepropaganda.it
Otaleg - www.otaleg.com for gelato
Supplizio (Pantheon/Piazza Navona) – www.supplizio.net