Achieved gastronomic bliss in Rome, day five. By the time most people are finishing their workday, I am stuffed, lying in bed in our apartment, unable to move and having no need to do so. I feel more happy, relaxed, and straight-up content than I can remember feeling in quite some time. It starts with pizza for breakfast.
Caught a glimpse of the guy responsible for my pizza-for-breakfast habit on the street today: Pierluigi Roscioli. I’m fairly certain he’s contemplating cheese, bread, or sauce in this photo:
So, how did I eat my way to euphoria today? Let me explain.
For well over a year now, I’ve gotten used seeing the back of my Dad’s head, backlit by a Mac, enraptured as he reads the blog of Elizabeth Minchilli. In a very 21st century kind of way, I’m proud to say, he’s actualized that online experience, and I got to tag along.
Elizabeth gave us a food tour of Rome today. Meeting her IRL was a trip, but eating a days worth of food, curated by her, in just a few hours? A bite-by-bite path to my aforementioned feelings of bliss, which, I’m pretty sure, are the point of any good vacation.
Not including coffee, there were eight stops on our food tour. This post merely touches on each one; in this case, photos come closer to doing the experience justice than my descriptions ever could. If you’re lucky enough to find yourself in or on your way to Rome, I enthusiastically recommend including a food tour with Elizabeth in your experience.
We started in the market in Campo di Fiori, something I’d describe as a color bomb:
The intensity of the colors, especially of the tomatoes, (one of the foods I miss eating most living in NYC, where it’s nearly impossible to find tomatoes this color unless you grow them yourself) stayed with me.
One convenience of Italian markets is most vegetables are prepared for you: chopped, cleaned, pruned, including salad mixes and the veggies necessary for a good minestrone:
Elizabeth explained the culture of showing loyalty to one stand, as many offer similar produce, the benefits of which were immediately proven by a brief but quintessentially charming interaction at the stand she’d chosen:
The reds! The greens! The giant smile on my face! This was just the beginning.
Next we picked up some freshly made bread, still warm from the oven.
This type of thin, warm bread is practically the only item you’ll see Italians eating on the go, in the street (it looses a lot of its goodness once it cools). I found evidence of such a snack on our way to the next stop: a cheese shop.
Elizabeth picked up four different types of cheese for us, and we headed to a café for aperitifs and an improvised cheese spread:
Veggies, bread, bitter cocktails and cheese…merely a warm-up for the plate of meats up next.
The smallest bites on this plate were an Italian version of beef jerky, cut from long fronds that reminded me of the feelers of a lobster or some other crustacean:
Sipping wine, Elizabeth educated us on the salami sampling; she also attracted an obvious and sincere familiarity with the Italians who frequent this shop:
I was so glad to have this marvelous lady as our guide. During a brief stroll to our next location, we pass a mechanic working on one of those cheekily small Italian cars:
Just when things couldn’t get any tastier, we stop at Beppe. Elizabeth describes Beppe as “an artist whose medium is cheese.” Hell. Yes.
Surprisingly, the four rectangular blocks on the left hand side of the plate – yes, the boring looking ones – were the most delicious. Pungent, creamy, and delicate, this plate (and this place!) was not fooling around in the flavor department. Peep the window.
Giggetto is in the Jewish neighborhood of Rome, once more literally a ghetto and now quite touristy. No matter. As Elizabeth explained, Roman-Jewish recipes come from necessity and limitation. How do you make an artichoke, an item lacking nutritionally and calorically, into something delicious and sustaining? Fry it.
Those other items keeping the artichoke company on the plate were actually some of my favorite on the tour: fried zucchini flower, with a shocking stripe of anchovy inside.
Following this, we ate the two pasta dishes most typical of Rome, Cacio e Pepe and Bucatini all’amatriciana. They went fast.
In my family – pardon my French – we don’t f*ck around when we get around a table.
Dessert came next, coffee and gelato. We thought (rightly so) that we had been killing the gelato game by frequenting two very legit spots, Gelato del Teatro and Fatamorgana. Elizabeth’s choice was just that much better (although at this point, we’re just splitting gelato hairs). Three flavors (my favorite was the pistachio), real whipped cream, espresso, and well, there you have it: blissful inability to walk.
I love this place.