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Locked down but not out in Italy

Singing from the balconies! One nice thing about this crisis ... solidarity! “Guess you’re not living like a tourist anymore,” was the funny, truthful and somewhat gut-wrenching message of a friend the day the lockdown in Italy began. Today is day 6. My beloved Italia has been hit hard with the COVID19 epidemic. With the second largest elderly population in the world, the epidemic has meant a disproportionate amount of deaths in the country. So though I haven’t been worried about contracting it myself, this isn’t about me or someone like me who, if contracted it would probably have a sucky couple of weeks and then recover. It is about if someone like me contracted it and then spread it to a person with a complicated health history or an elderly person with a weakened immune system. Eerily orderly: Lines for the grocery store, each person one meter apart In a country with no concept (and no physical room really) for personal space, and in a city with reproachable hygie

I Piaceri d'Italia: Pasta


The history of pasta is long and well-documented among various blogs and web sites so I will let you check those out for the nitty gritty. But I will say that the Arabs, my ancestors, likely introduced it to Sicily where it quickly became a staple food and spread in-land and consequently worldwide. Thanks great, great, great (etc) grandparents!

Pasta e Ceci
(Upper left)
Pasta AND chic peas! Two of my favorite things. How can you go wrong? This soup-like pasta dish is especially good in winter, and usually only found on menus in that season. However, no matter the season, it is always yummy. Casetta di Trastevere's version is featured above and was mighty good. My favorite is still Al Fontanone's version. I don't know why, but maybe it is because it feels like the Italian couple that works at the restaurant are also still the cooks, and perhaps the recipe was handed down from generations before. This is total speculation. They could have also gotten the recipe off a soup can. Want a recipe? This site is in italian but has pictures for every step, so it might not be so daunting.

Fettuccine ai Funghi Porcini
(Upper Right)
Another ubiquitous dish in the vegetarian-friendly category, fettuccine ai funghi porcini is a dish that melts in your mouth when made well. The rich flavorful taste of the mushrooms and the smoothness of the pasta is a perfect combination. Pecorino, a properly Roman restaurant, in Testaccio has a superb version. You may also recognize this dish from my Abruzzo getaway. Yes, it is the Italian solution to a vegetarian clientele. A great blog I have come across, Profumo di Sicilia, has a nice recipe for this dish, as well as lovely recipes for other traditional Italian dishes. Wish I could cook that well!

Cacio e Pepe con Cicoria
(Bottom left)
As simple as it gets, cacio e pepe can still be a hard dish to nail. Like pizza margherita, its simplicity doesn't allow much room for mistake. There aren't many flavors to mask the taste; so fresh, quality ingredients are all you've got. This Cacio e Pepe was AMAZING from a little restaurant, Osteria Pistoia, in Monteverde Nuovo, far from the centro, but worth the trip! Try making it yourself.

Stelle e Lune Pasta per i Bambini
(Bottom Right)
Like bambini (children), I am easaily amused by the different shapes of pasta and marvel when I find new ones in the grocery store. This stars and moons pasta was the most interesting I have found in an Italian grocery store. I am leaving the x-rated type sold for bachelorette parties out of this category. Though if you are looking for that type of pasta, it has definitely become more prominent, showing up in all kinds of tourist and even specialty food shops around Rome. Locally well-known specialty store, Castroni, even has pasta in the shape of David's most well known part! Well, to each his/her own.


  1. i am drooling over #2 - i think if i were to ever go to italy, you'd have to roll me back onto the plane back home!! :(

    guess who! :)


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