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The Roman Diet

Rome has been a melting pot for foods from other places since the Roman Legions began collecting recipes and provisions, and, in some cases, cooks, from the far reaches of the empire.

La cucina romana provides some of the most flavorful foods of Italy. Memorable meals in the region of Latium begin with arrays of antipasti that alone would make feasts: plattersof frutti di mare, anchovies, sardines, tuna, fried shrimp, prosciutto, salame, olives, mushrooms, pickles, sun-dried tomatoes, sweet-sour onions, peas and beans with pork, pizze, focacce, canapés, vegetable tarts, frittate with potatoes and onions, stuffed eggplants,peppers and tomatoes, croquettes of rice, vegetables or meats, breads grilled and flavored with garlic and oil as bruschetta or sliced and topped with meat and vegetable pastes or cheeses as crostini.

Gardeners raise the tastiest of peas, zucchini and fava beans, specialize in artichokes tender enough to eat raw, or to fry in the style of Rome's Jewish ghetto as carciofi alla giudia. The region's own species of rucola (rocket) and the wild ruchetta make splendid salads, as do puntarelle, spear-like endive dressed with raw garlic and anchovies.

The hills of northern Latium are noted for extra virgin olive oils, protected under the DOPs of Canino and Sabina.

Roman menus feature spaghetti alla carbonara and bucatini all'amatriciana, as well as tubes of rigatoni and penne. Fresh pasta may be flat as lasagne, rolled as cannelloni or cut in strips as the celebrated fettuccine al burro, often identified with a restaurant called Alfredo. Gnocchi from potatoes or durum wheat semolino are also popular around the region, as are polenta and rice.

Seafood plays a role in the daily diet, with mussels, clams, shrimp, squid, cuttlefish and palombo shark fresh from the ports of Fiumicino and Anzio, alongside the indispensable baccalà. Also to be found are large prawns called mazzancolle and gamberi,sea bass called spigola, as well as imported oysters and lobsters.

Romans adore abbacchio, milk-fed lamb roasted for Easter feasts though delicious year-round. They also eat their share of beef and veal, whose prime cuts were traditionally reserved for the bourgeosie and whose other parts, tripe, brains, entrails, liver, heart, even feet and tails, went into the zestful dishes of the common people. Pork is prized as porchetta, roasted by butchers in the Castelli Romani and sliced warm for sandwiches at the city's street markets. Many recipes rely on guanciale, salt pork from the jowl, though the traditional lard has been steadily replaced as a cooking fat by olive oil from the Sabine hills. The rustic country bread of Genzano in the Castelli Romanirates an IGP.

Pecorino Romano DOP prevails among cheeses. Latium alsomakes the fresh buffalo milk cheese that qualifies under the Mozzarelladi Bufala Campana DOP, centered in Campania, the similar provaturaand tasty young marzolino from the milk of sheep or goats. Ricottamay be eaten fresh or salted and dried for grating.

Rome is noted for gelato, lenten raisin buns called maritozzi, cream-filled pastries called bignè, rum-soaked fruit and nut cake called pan giallo and a custard cake drenched with syrupy liqueurs known as zuppa inglese. The city's coffee bars are famous for espresso from freshly roasted beans. Meals oftenend with a glass of sweet sambuca liqueur, sipped with three coffee beans to munch on.

White wines dominate Latium's production, whose 23 DOCs are led by the versatile Frascati and Marino from the Castelli Romani and the mythical Est! Est!! Est!!! from Montefiascone to the north. Yet some of the finest wines are reds of Cerveteri, Velletri, a trio from the Cesanese vine or unclassified bottles based on Cabernet and Merlot.

 

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Gourmet Walking Tours

Gourmet Tour
Food Secrets

Zig zagging through the winding streets join one of our private gourmet food tours and discover unique gourmet shops and purveyors of Roman specialities.

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Cooking Classes in Rome

Rome has been a melting pot for foods from other places since the Roman Legions began collecting recipes and provisions, and, in some cases, cooks, from the far reaches of the empire. La Cucina Romana provides some of the most flavorful foods of Italy.

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Pizza or Pasta class in a rome restuarant

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