Counted among the great capital cities of Europe, Rome is the largest and most populous metropolitan area in Italy, as well as one of the most prominent culinary destinations on the continent. Despite originating in a highly urban environment, the cuisine of Rome draws heavily on seasonal produce from the nearby countryside. Roman cuisine, although similar in some ways to that of the rest of Italy, features certain dishes that are not widely known outside the city.
Spaghetti alla Carbonara
Pasta is one of Italy's most famous food exports. There are hundreds of regional variations and speciality dishes, including some originating in Rome. Spaghetti alla carbonara is Rome's best-known pasta delicacy. It is a simple dish made from spaghetti or other pasta, egg yolk, pecarino cheese, black pepper and guanciale, unsmoked Italian bacon made from pork cheek or jowl. In the traditional recipe, the pasta is cooked until done and mixed with egg yolk, cheese and black pepper while still hot. The heat from the pasta slightly cooks the egg yolk and gives it a creamy texture. Before serving, the cooked guanciale is mixed into the pasta. American variations of the dish include cream, vegetables or mushrooms, although these are not typically featured in the Roman version.
Gnocchi alla Romana
Eaten as a second course or entrée, gnocchi are small dumplings prepared in a variety of ways. In Rome, gnocchi is made with semolina and baked with cheese and olive oil. The thick dough contains semolina flour, milk and butter, which is formed into a cylindrical roll and sliced. The round slices are arranged in an overlapping fashion on a buttered pan, sprinkled with Parmesan or pecarino cheese and baked until done. Gnocchi alla Romana, or Roman-style gnocchi, is a versatile dish sometimes varied with the addition of an egg-yolk glaze, red pepper flakes or black pepper.
Suppli is a common street food or appetizer served in Rome. It is a simple dish made from risotto, cheese and tomato sauce worked into a thick, porridge-like mixture, then rolled into balls, breaded and fried. Similar to croquettes, suppli were created to use leftover risotto and quickly became a popular snack food. Although variations of this dish are found throughout Italy and Sicily, the Roman variation is distinctive for its mozzarella-filled centre.
Carciofi alla Giudia
Carciofi alla giudia, or Jewish-style artichokes, is an important contribution from the Jewish culinary tradition of Rome. Prepared in winter when artichokes are young and tender, it is a highly seasonal delicacy in Rome. Simple to prepare, carciofi alla giudia is made with small Roman artichoke, lemon, olive oil, salt and pepper. The artichokes are trimmed of their top leaves and stems until just the heart and soft inner leaves remain. After soaking in water and lemon juice, the artichokes are lightly smashed to soften them and placed in a pan of hot olive oil. Once crisp, they are lightly seasoned with salt and pepper and served as an appetizer.
Fiori di Zucca
Fiori di zucca, or fried zucchini flowers, are a summertime delicacy in Rome. Although they are sometimes served plain without stuffing, fiori di zucca is most often stuffed with a wide range of ingredients, including cheese, anchovies, risotto, sauage, prosciutto and olives. Served as antipasti, or hors d'oeuvres, it is also a popular bar food or street food when zucchinis are blossoming.
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