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ITALY, SOUTHERN

related to the porgy), as well as a variety of shellfish and cuttlefish, are available.

Olive oil is produced around the Apennines and in southern Apulia, and is used all over the South. Suitable soil and temperature contribute to an abundance of veg- etables and fruits, and many types of herbs are also pro- duced. Eggplant is a major food item, as it grows better in the South than in the North and can be prepared in many different ways; melanzana, the Italian word for egg- plant, derives from mela insana (“noxious apple”).

Rome, Naples, and Sicily are places that non- Italians are familiar with; however, there are other re- gions in Southern Italy, and some of their food culture is also described here.

Rome

Rome is truly the Eternal City. Its rich and fascinating history includes the elaborate public and private feasts held by ancient Roman emperors. That said, modern Ro- man cuisine is actually quite simple and much influenced by other regions. Dishes are prepared simply with a few inexpensive ingredients. Antipasti are not elaborate, pasta sauces are quick to prepare, and there is a large variety of vegetables (especially leafy greens).

Historically, Rome was the place where cattle were butchered, and so Romans are famous for their use of the quinto quarto, or fifth quarter, the organ meats and parts of the cattle that were left over after butchering. Two fa- mous Roman dishes, coda alla vaccinara, a stew of oxtail braised for a long time with celery, carrots, onions, toma- toes, herbs, and spices in white wine, and rigatoni alla pa- jata or pagliata, short, tubular pasta with beef or veal intestines in a tomato sauce, were born around the com- munal slaughterhouse in Testaccio.

A popular meat is lamb, which is usually roasted in

the oven (abbacchio al forno) and served with potatoes. Ex- amples of other meat dishes considered very Roman are pollo alla Romana, chicken with red and yellow peppers; saltimbocca alla Romana (literally, jump into the mouth) made of thin slices of veal, prosciutto, and sage; and trippa alla Romana, which is tripe in a tomato and mint sauce.

Bucatini all’amatriciana (tubular pasta with bacon and tomato sauce) originated from country kitchens, where ba- con, olive oil, and fresh tomatoes were plentiful. Fettuc- cine Alfredo is just pasta al burro (pasta with butter) from Alfredo’s restaurant in Rome. Some other popular pasta sauces are cacio e pepe (pecorino cheese and pepper), car- bonara (bacon, eggs, and pecorino and Parmesan cheeses) and arrabbiata (hot pepper and tomatoes). Gnocchi alla Ro- mana are dumplings made of semolina, eggs, milk, and cheese. Spaghetti alla puttanesca (literally, spaghetti whore- style) is made with olives, anchovies, and capers.

There are also soups, all with some version of pasta in them, such as stracciatelle (literally, “little rags”), so named from the thin batter of egg, flour, and Parmesan that is poured into the chicken or beef broth used. Oth-

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ers feature herbs, such as lentil soup flavored with nepitella (wild mint) and bean soup flavored with rosemary. There are also minestra de ceci e pasta (soup with chickpeas and pasta) and zuppa di arzilla (fish soup).

Romans say it takes four people to make a proper salad: a spendthrift for the oil, a miser for the vinegar, a wise man for seasoning, and a madman for mixing. Pan- zanella is bread salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, onion, basil, and dressing. A classic Roman winter salad is puntarelle, shoots of a particular variety of chicory with a bitter undertone, tossed with a dressing made with olive oil, anchovies, garlic, and lemon juice. Some salads are a mix of greens sometimes called misticanza, preferably with the addition of rughetta (also called rucola, rocola, and, as it is in English, arugula). More recently tomatoes, shredded carrots, and even canned maize (corn) may be added to salads.

Artichokes are also seasonal and popular as in car- ciofi alla Romana (Roman style), which are stood upright in a pan as they cook with garlic, mint, parsley, and an abundant drizzle of olive oil. Another famous prepara- tion is made from romanesco artichokes, which are round and lack a spiny choke. These reach gastronomic heights when prepared alla giudia (Jewish style), in which the ar- tichokes are flattened and deep-fried to look like golden sunflowers and their leaves have a delicious nutty crunch- iness. This dish has contributed to the fame of the restau- rants in the Roman ghetto.

Also popular in Rome are such stuffed vegetables as tomatoes stuffed with rice and mozzarella, or zucchini stuffed with chopped meat. Then there are vegetables, mainly greens, that are prepared all’agro (with a lemon- juice dressing) or in padella (stir-fried).

Rome is partial to frying: fritto misto (mixed fry) can contain shrimp and calamari (squid); or artichoke and brain; or different cheeses; or a mixture of vegetables; or supplì al telefono, a croquette of rice with mozzarella cheese in the middle—when one bites into it the mozzarella flows out in long threads, as in a telephone cord. The fa- mous fiori di zucca (zucchini flowers) are stuffed with moz- zarella and anchovy and dipped in batter before frying. Cod is also batter-dipped and fried (baccalà filetti).

Pecorino romano and ricotta are the most favored cheeses. Ricotta, a soft sheep’s milk cheese, is prepared inside wicker baskets.

Rosette (hollow, very crisp rolls) are very characteris- tic of Rome, as is casareccio, a chewy, peasant-style bread.

Favorite desserts in Rome are fresh fruits, especially strawberries from Nemi (a town on the outskirts of Rome), or macedonia (fruit salad). Many other popular desserts have originated elsewhere, such as tiramisu (lit- erally, “pick me up”), made of mascarpone (a very creamy, soft cheese, typically made from cow’s milk), ladyfingers, coffee, and other ingredients specific to the home or restaurant; torta de la nonna (cake with custard and pine

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