When in Rome, Learn to Cook Italian
For me, visiting Italy is a bittersweet experience. The sweetness comes from knowing that virtually everything I taste — from the morning’s first expertly pulled espresso to the sip of limoncello in the trattoria at evening’s end — will be intensely memorable. The bitterness comes later, usually when the plane has left Leonardo da Vinci airport and I’m confronting the minor insult of the in-flight meal, and the tiny tragedy of my first sip of reheated filter coffee. By then it’s already too late: Once again, I’ve left Rome behind, and the sprezzatura has started to drain from my day.
在我而言，游览意大利是种苦乐参半的体验。乐，是因为我知道，几乎所有我品尝到的美味，从清晨第一杯娴熟萃取的意大利浓缩咖啡，到晚间意大利餐厅里的柠檬酒，都会让我极度难忘。苦，则伴随其后，通常是在我乘坐的航班离开列奥纳多达文西机场(Leonardo da Vinci airport)，面对着飞机餐带给我的小小屈辱，还有第一口经过重新加热的过滤咖啡带给我的小小悲怆时。事至如此，已然晚矣：又一次地，罗马在我身后渐渐远去，所有的云淡风轻开始自我的日子中剥离。
The origins of Amatriciana, a cured pork and tomato-based sauce, are traditionally traced to Amatrice, a provincial town in the Sabine Hills northeast of Rome.
It’s a maddening hallmark of the culture. Italians, who are extraordinarily good at elevating simple tastes and textures into the realm of the extraordinary, will also go to great efforts to make the whole process look effortless. Five hundred years ago, the humanist author Baldassare Castiglione labeled such studied nonchalance “sprezzatura,” from the verb meaning “to undervalue.” “We may call that art true art,” he wrote in “The Book of the Courtier,” “which does not seem to be art.” For a gracious nobleman in Renaissance Urbino, that meant being able to finish dancing the most elaborate saltarello with a double hop and a self-deprecatory shrug.
这是一种令人痴狂的文化印记。意大利人极为擅长将简单的品味与质地提升到超凡脱俗的境界，他们也会付出巨大的努力，让这一整个过程看上去仿佛毫不费力。五百年前，人文主义作家巴尔达萨雷·卡斯蒂廖内(Baldassare Castiglione)根据意指“低估”的动词，为这种刻意为之的若无其事，创造了一个名词“云淡风轻”(sprezzatura)。“我们可以称这种艺术为真正的艺术，”他在《廷臣论》(The Book of the Courtier)中写道，“这种看不出是艺术的艺术。”对于文艺复兴时期乌尔比诺(Urbino)的一名优雅贵族而言，这意味着能够在跳完最为精妙的萨尔塔雷洛舞(saltarello)时，用一个双跃和一个谦虚的耸肩作为收尾。
In Rome, I am fooled by sprezzatura all the time, especially when it comes to food. When I tried my first rectangle of pizza bianca, salted flatbread slathered with olive oil, at a bakery in Campo de’ Fiori, it seemed like the most uncomplicated of snacks; in reality, it keeps its characteristic texture, crispy outside and chewy inside, for only a few minutes after being pulled from an overachieving industrial oven.
在罗马，我一直在被这种云淡风轻骗到，特别是跟吃的有关的时候。我在鲜花广场(Campo de’ Fiori)内的一间面包店里，尝试了我的第一块方形白披萨——在一块咸面饼上只抹了橄榄油而已，这貌似是最不用心的一种小吃了；但实际上，从不同凡响的工业用炉中取出后的短短数分钟里，它保持着自己独特的口感，外层酥脆，内有嚼劲。
The first time I wandered into the gelateria around the corner from the Trevi Fountain, the flavors on offer seemed pretty basic — no cookie dough or cherries jubilee in sight — until I learned that the owners of San Crispino made their limone with handpicked lemons from the Amalfi Coast, and the basil gelato with leaves left to ferment for six months.
在我第一次逛到特莱维喷泉(Trevi Fountain)附近的冰淇淋店时，店里提供的似乎都是些最基础的口味——触目所及既没有曲奇饼干口味也没有樱桃盛宴口味——直到我得知，这间San Crispino的老板是用精心挑选的阿玛菲海岸(Amalfi Coast)产柠檬制作柠檬酱，用发酵过六个月的罗勒叶制作罗勒冰淇淋的。
At the Sant’Eustachio caffè, near the Pantheon, every espresso is topped with an improbably thick layer of chestnut-hued foam; a plastic flap alongside the nozzles on the machine prevents customers from glimpsing how much sugar the baristas add to the crema (a case of sprezzatura turned into proprietary secret). In Italy, you should never underestimate the amount of finesse brought to bear on the most elemental of pleasures.
On this trip, I decided not to leave Rome without trying to pick up a few bravura techniques of my own. Learning to cook a few Italian staples there would be the surest way to develop my own sense of sprezzatura. So this summer, I rented an apartment with a basic but functional kitchen in the Trastevere neighborhood, close to some of Rome’s best markets. Surely I would be able to master a contorno — a seasonal vegetable side dish — and a couple of Roman pasta staples. I vowed to start with the simplest of all: cacio e pepe, a dish said to attain perfection through the use of only three ingredients: pasta, cheese and pepper.
在这一次的旅行中，我决定，没有学会几样漂亮招数的话，就不离开罗马。学做几道意大利主食，想必会是培养我自己“云淡风轻”感的最可靠途经。于是在这个夏天，我在特拉斯提弗列(Trastevere)一带，靠近几间罗马最棒的集市的地方，租了一间公寓，里面有间布置简单但功能齐全的厨房。我肯定能够掌握一道时蔬配菜(contorno)和几种罗马式意面的做法。我决定先从最简单的一种学起：黑胡椒起司意大利面(cacio e pepe)，这道料理据说只需运用三种材料，意面、起司和胡椒，便可完美呈献。
Knowing where to start, though, is harder than it looks, especially with cacio e pepe, a dish whose trendiness has recently led to a proliferation of recipes. Last year, President Obama was served a plate, along with a glass of 2006 Brunello, at a private dinner party at Villa Taverna, the American ambassador’s residence in Rome.
When an earthquake hit the Emilia-Romagna region three years ago, the three-star Michelin chef Massimo Bottura raised money for the region by offering a risotto of cacio e pepe that used wheels of Parmigiano-Reggiano broken by the quake at his Modena restaurant, Osteria Francescana. Gwyneth Paltrow and Mario Batali have published cacio e pepe recipes that call for Parmesan (and in Mario Batali’s case, butter).
三年前，一场地震侵袭了艾米利亚罗马涅区(Emilia-Romagna)，米其林三星厨师马西莫·博图拉(Massimo Bottura)用地震中被压碎的帕马森雷加诺圆形干酪(Parmigiano-Reggiano)做成了一道黑胡椒起司意大利饭，在自己位于摩德纳(Modena)的餐厅Osteria Francescana里供应，通过这种方式为该区筹集资金。格温妮丝·帕特洛(Gwyneth Paltrow)和马里奥·巴塔利(Mario Batali)曾经公布了几种需要用到帕马森奶酪（马里奥·巴塔利用的是黄油）的黑胡椒起司意大利面菜谱。
For true Roman cooks, this is an abomination: While there is room for debate about the pasta to be used, there can be none about the cheese. The cacio — an old dialect term for cheese — in question can only be salty, fatty pecorino Romano. A brine-washed ewe’s cheese aged for a minimum of eight months, it is also considered one of the oldest Italian cheeses: Pliny the Elder described its production in the Roman countryside two millenniums ago.
在真正的罗马厨师看来，这种事很让人不爽：对于使用哪种意大利面，一直存在着不同的意见，但涉及奶酪时却非如此。这里所说的cacio——奶酪在一种古老方言中的叫法——只能是咸味的高脂羊奶干乳酪。这是一种用盐水浸泡的母羊奶酪，经过至少八个月的陈化，也被认为是历史最为悠久的意式奶酪之一：老普林尼(Pliny the Elder)在两千年前，就描述过罗马乡下是如何生产这种奶酪的。
At Felice a Testaccio, a trattoria that has been open in Testaccio, a working-class neighborhood on the east bank of the Tiber River, since 1936, the bowl of unmixed cacio e pepe that is brought to the table at first looks as appetizing as an autopsy pan heaped with viscera.
台伯河东岸上的工薪阶层聚集地——泰斯塔西奥(Testaccio)区内，有一间自1936年便营业至今的意式饮食店Felice a Testaccio，在这里，刚上桌时的黑胡椒起司意大利面不会直接拌好，看上去就像一盘摆满各式内脏的解剖盘一样令人“开胃”。
Fat, slimy noodles of tonnarelli — a fresh, egg-based pasta that in Rome is acceptable as a deluxe alternative to spaghetti — are puddled with the soapy-looking water the pasta has cooked in. It is only the flick of the waiter’s wrist that makes them into something appetizing. With a spoon and a fork, he lifts the noodles from the bowl, at the same time giving them an energetic clockwise half turn. Every motion coats the pasta with the mound of finely grated pecorino, flaked with coarsely ground black pepper, that is hidden in the bottom of the bowl. The result is the cremina, a sauce whose unctuousness results not from butter or cream, but from the combination of the fat from the pecorino, the starch from the pasta and the residual heat of the cooking water. (This is also the way to make a real Roman Alfredo sauce, which consists of butter, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and fettuccine, but not a drop of cream.) It’s a privileged display of sprezzatura at work.
“This is the secret, how to do the perfect cacio e pepe,” said my lunch companion Laura Perez, as she watched the mixing process. (“I have the most photographed hands in Rome,” quipped the waiter when I asked if I could video him at work.) Born in the suburbs of Rome, Laura is a talented home chef who appeared on “La Prova del Cuoco,” a popular cooking show on the Rai television network. She told me that her grandmother, who was from the Lazio region outside Rome, was her first teacher.
“这就是其中的秘诀，做出完美的黑胡椒起司意大利面的方法，”与我共进午餐的劳拉·佩雷斯(Laura Perez)看着这道搅拌过程说。（“我有一双全罗马上镜次数最多的手，”侍者在被我问及能否让我录制下他制作过程中的画面时，如此调侃道。）生在罗马郊区的劳拉，是位才华横溢的家庭厨师，上过意大利广播电视公司（RAI）的一档人气烹饪电视节目《厨师的挑战》(La Prova del Cuoco)。她告诉我说，她那来自罗马以外的拉齐奥区(Lazio)的祖母，是她的第一位老师。
“She was perfect, my grandmother,” Laura said. “From her, I learned to do everything all’occhio, by eye, just by watching what she did.”
To make cacio e pepe for two, Laura starts by bringing a pot filled two-thirds full with water to boil, adding sale grosso — enough kosher salt to fill the hollow in the palm of her cupped right hand — just when the first bubbles appear. (“Otherwise it becomes too salty.”) When you add the spaghetti or tonnarelli, she says, “test it as you cook, so it’s al dente; in Rome we don’t like pasta mushy.”
Using a slotted spoon, rather than a colander, she scoops the pasta on top of the pecorino and pepper mix. The cooking water comes last. “Usually it’s two spoons for a plate. Not three, because it becomes a soup — it’s not good.” For Laura, the combination of simple, high-quality ingredients makes this a classic Roman dish.
“Cacio e pepe is not the kind of pasta you can eat every day. Too many calories. Even when you are young, you have it maybe once a month.”
When I tested her recipe in the kitchen of my apartment, I got her point: After a few bites, my stomach revolted against the prospect of another caloric hit. It didn’t help that my first attempt came out a clumpy mess, an issue I resolved in later versions by stirring in extra virgin olive oil with the cheese and pepper. I’m already learning a key paradox: When it comes to cooking like a Roman, there may be no absolute truth, but there are well-defined limits.
My next instructor, so to speak, was Katie Parla, a popular food blogger and fellow contributor to The New York Times who moved to Rome from New Jersey 12 years ago. “In Italy,” Katie said as she navigated the stalls of an indoor food market near the Vatican, “there is no recipe, but there is, you know what I mean? And everybody will fight to the death to prove their recipe is the best recipe — even though their knowledge is usually based on rumor.”
Katie had offered to help me assemble the ingredients for an amatriciana sauce. A staple on Roman menus, it is most often eaten with the long, hollow noodles called bucatini (the word means “pierced”) whose unruliness on the fork means the tomato-based sauce cries out for a napkin to be tucked into the collar. I met Katie in the Prati neighborhood, outside the Mercato Trionfale, one of the indoor markets that have almost completely replaced Rome’s well-loved sidewalk markets.
凯蒂曾经主动提出，愿意帮我准备好阿马特里西酱(amatriciana sauce)的所有材料。这是罗马式菜单上的一道主食，常与一种叫作“bucatini”（“穿透”之意）的细条空心粉一起食用，这种空心粉完全无法用叉子驾驭，导致这些番茄酱极需你在领口间塞上一块餐巾。我是在普拉蒂附近的Mercato Trionfale外面认识凯蒂的，这种室内集市几乎完全取代了罗马备受百姓喜爱的路边集市。
“Campo de’ Fiori is one of the only outdoor markets left,” she told me, “but it’s also the saddest, because there are very few produce stalls, just a lot of bottles of limoncello and olive oil baking in the sun.”
The 200 vendors at Trionfale, she pointed out, are offered subsidized rent and have been given access to fresh running water. (Some of new indoor markets, like the airy complex in the Testaccio district, offer sit-down cafes and lunch stands, and have become destinations for visiting foodies.)
Efficiently steering her way through the older women who make up the bulk of the morning shoppers, Katie stopped at a stall where plastic crates were piled high with eggplant, cucumber, cantaloupe and zucchini. The white-gloved vendor handed her a paper bag full of fat, ripe cherry tomatoes, still on the vine.
“I love that smell,” she said, plunging her nose in the bag. “Summertime.” Tomatoes, it turns out, are one of the only things that Romans agree goes into an amatriciana sauce, though even their inclusion is disputed by culinary authorities.
“Amatriciana,” Katie said, “is a cured pork and tomato-based sauce that includes pecorino and sometimes onion and sometimes garlic and sometimes chile peppers and sometimes black pepper.” Its origins are traditionally traced to Amatrice, a sleepy provincial town in the Sabine Hills northeast of Rome. Food scholars believe the earliest versions predated the 18th-century popularization of tomatoes in Italy. A tomato-free “white amatriciana,” known as gricia, can still be found on Roman menus; its key ingredients, grated pecorino and guanciale (pork jowl that has been cured, though not smoked) also go into the traditional sauce.
After a vendor gave us two tiny red pepperoncini — similar to dried Thai bird’s-eye peppers — without charge, we left the market and walked two blocks to La Tradizione, a delicatessen that proved to be an Aladdin’s cave of Italian cheeses and cured meat.
一名摊贩递给我们两只小小的红色希腊金椒(pepperoncini)——跟风干后的泰国鸟眼椒(Thai bird’s-eye pepper)很像——而且没要我们的钱，随后我们便离开集市，走过两个街区前往La Tradizione，一间堪称意大利奶酪与腊肉宝库的熟食店。
A counterman in a white smock wrapped up a half-pound of guanciale, enough for three people, and selected a piece of pecorino from beneath a huge glass bell that can be lowered to keep some of the shop’s 400 kinds of cheese fresh. I was surprised when Katie handed me a package not of bucatini, but of a variety of dried pasta shaped like a truncated cylinder.
“It’s a bit controversial,” she admitted. “A very classic amatriciana would be rich and heavy, and made with bucatini. I prefer making mine a little lighter, and using these mezze maniche.” Key to her amatriciana, she said, is combining fresh tomatoes with passata, the uncooked tomato sauce, strained to remove seeds, available in grocery stores. Wishing me buona fortuna, she promised to email me a recipe, and headed off for the day’s appointments.
Before attempting my own amatriciana, I decide to sample the versions served at two of Rome’s best trattorias. At Flavio al Velavevodetto, in Testaccio, the sauce is rich and salty-sweet, but the chef, Flavio De Maio (who trained for seven years in the kitchen of Felice a Testaccio), opts to use rigatoni, which, when cooked in the Roman style, verges on the crunchy side of al dente.
在动手试做我自己的阿马特里西酱之前，我决定先到罗马最好的两间饮食店里弄点他们做的作为样品。在泰斯塔西奥的Flavio al Velavevodetto里，这道酱料的口感油腻，咸中带甜，不过店内大厨弗拉维奥·德马约(Flavio De Maio)（他曾在泰斯塔西奥的Felice餐厅的厨房中受训了七年）选用的则是肋状通心粉(rigatoni)，用罗马人的方法煮熟后，嚼劲中更带着一种酥脆感。
I decided that the classic bucatini all’amatriciana served at Da Cesare al Casaletto, a trattoria on the lower floor of a residential building on the Janiculum Hill, would be the one I tried to emulate. Slurping up the wriggly bucatini, after all, is part of the dish’s sloppy charm. (Full disclosure: The owner of Da Cesare, Leonardo Vignoli, noticed my note-taking and came to my table to offer me a glass of Cirsium, by the Lazio-based vintner Damiano Ciolli, and the combination of the swirling tannins of the lightly oaked red and the sauce’s inherent saltiness elevated the experience to another plane.)
我最后确定，位于贾尼科洛山(Janiculum Hill)一座住宅楼低层中的饮食店Da Cesare al Casaletto所供应的那种经典口味的阿马特里西酱细条通心粉，就是我想要模仿的口味。毕竟，吞吸着弯弯曲曲的细条通心粉，也是这道料理粗放魅力的一部分。（大爆料：Da Cesare的老板莱昂纳多·维诺里(Leonardo Vignoli)留意到我在记笔记后，走到我的餐桌前，为我上了一杯拉齐奥(Lazio)产区的葡萄酒商Damiano Ciolli酿造的Cirsium，酒红色液体内的单宁令人眩晕，再加上酱料自身特有的咸味，将整个口感提升到了一个新的层次。）
The next day, though, my own attempt at amatriciana, based on the directions that Katie had emailed me, resulted in an inedible mess of intolerable saltiness. I realized that following a recipe isn’t enough: I needed to work side by side with a genuine Roman cook.
I decided to call a group called Home Food, which offers cooking lessons and home-cooked meals to visitors. Founded by a sociology professor from the University of Bologna in 2004, the nonprofit group now organizes visits with 400 home cooks, known as Le Cesarine (or “Little Caesars”), whose goal is to keep traditional home-cooking techniques alive in an age of microwaves and takeout.
我决定致电给一个名叫家常料理(Home Food)的团体，他们会为游客提供烹饪课程和家常口味的菜肴。这间非营利组织由博洛尼亚大学(University of Bologna)的一位社会学教授创建于2004年，目前在一间名为Le Cesarine（意为“小凯撒”）的餐厅里，组织着400名家庭厨师的交流活动，他们的目标是要在这个受微波炉和外卖支配的时代，保持住传统家庭料理技艺的生命力。
Flavia Pantaleo, the cesarina who welcomed me into her apartment east of Villa Borghese, showed me why my attempt at an amatriciana tasted like a mouthful of water from the Dead Sea. Because pecorino and cured pork are already salty enough, she said, it’s important to undersalt the water you cook the pasta in. (Flavia prefers to use dried pasta made by Libera Terra, a supermarket brand produced in regions that have been freed of Mafia influence; for her amatriciana, she surprised me by opting for pancetta, from the pig’s belly, rather than traditional guanciale from the jowl.)
他们的家庭厨师弗蕾维亚·潘塔莱奥(Flavia Pantaleo)，在她位于鲍格才别墅(Villa Borghese)东边的公寓里接待了我，让我明白了我做的阿马特里西酱为何尝起来就像死海的海水一样咸。她说，因为羊乳干酪和腊肉本身都已经含有足够的盐分，因此在煮意面的水里少放盐就很重要。（弗蕾维亚喜欢用Libera Terra制作的干意面，这是几个摆脱了黑手党控制的地区内崛起的一个超市品牌；在她的阿马特里西酱配方中，很是让我意外地选用了用猪腩肉制成的意式培根(pancetta)，而非传统的风干猪脸肉。）
After uncorking a bottle of Frascati, that crisp, young white wine of ancient pedigree that so perfectly accompanies the Roman summer, Flavia sets me to work on my last challenge: making stuffed, deep-fried zucchini flowers. As I cut a ball of mozzarella into rectangles, she explained that her mother, though baptized as a Catholic during the Fascist era, grew up in a Jewish household and taught her daughter some of the staples of Rome’s Jewish community, the oldest in continued existence in Europe. Fiori di zucca ripieni is one of the most spectacular: the male flowers of the squash plant, whose involutions call to mind the membranous ears of a bat, are stuffed with anchovies and cheese, then dipped in batter and deep fried. Served in pairs, wrapped in cones of wax paper, they remain the summer appetizer of choice in Rome’s Jewish ghetto.
我们开了一瓶弗拉斯卡蒂(Frascati)，这款口感清爽鲜嫩，继承了古老血统的白葡萄酒，与罗马的夏日契合得浑然天成；然后，弗蕾维亚让我进行了最后一项挑战：制作填有馅料的油炸南瓜花。在我把一块球状的马苏里拉奶酪切成小方块时，她向我解释道，她的母亲虽然在法西斯统治时期受洗成了一名天主教徒，却是在犹太家庭中长大，并且教了她几道主食，全部出自罗马的犹太人聚集地——这里也是欧洲延续时间最久的犹太人聚集地。油炸酿南瓜花(Fiori di Zucca ripieni)便是其中一个最奇葩的一道：在南瓜植株上的雄花（枯萎后会教人想起蝙蝠的兜风耳）内填上凤尾鱼和奶酪，然后裹在面糊里下锅彻底炸透。成品会成对地包在蜡纸筒里上桌，迄今依然是罗马犹太区在不二选的夏季开胃菜。
Naturally, controversy attends the correct way of making them. Katie Parla prefers stuffing them with well-rinsed salted anchovies; Flavia thinks that anchovies packed in oil make for a less salty dish. Some cooks opt for ricotta, but Flavia prefers the texture of melted mozzarella; she recommends fior di latte over bufala. (Everybody agrees that removing the pistils, which are bitter, before cooking is essential.)
当然，在制作这道美食的正确方法上，也出现了不同的声音。凯蒂·帕拉喜欢在这些南瓜花里填入腌制后经过彻底水洗的凤尾鱼；弗蕾维亚则认为，裹上一层油的凤尾鱼做出的成品会没有那么咸。有些厨师会选用意式乳清干酪(ricotta)，弗蕾维亚则喜欢马苏里拉奶酪融化后的质地；比起软乳酪(bufala)，她更推荐莫萨里拉干酪(fior di latte)。（所有人都同意，在制作前除去花里苦味较重的雌蕊，是道必不可少的手续。）
As I watched Flavia at work, I saw she did it all all’occhio, by eye, adding a spoonful here, a pinch there, never using exact measures. After combining flour, salt and white wine (“You can put in beer, too,” she says, “because it’s bubbly. If you have some leftover prosecco, that’s even better”), she left the batter to settle for a few minutes while filling a deep pan with peanut oil. As it heated on the stove, she threw in a few grains of salt, which, she told me, will keep the flowers from spitting as they fry in the hot oil.
As we sat at the dining room table, I marveled as I bit into the orange and green flowers, each one batter-bound and enfolding a nugget of anchovy and molten mozzarella, and sighed as I spooned up the last of the perfectly salted amatriciana sauce.
“Bonissimo, eh?” said Flavia, with quiet satisfaction.
Indeed. That evening, I witnessed the essence of finesse: Flavia elevated simple dishes into something remarkable, without recourse to measuring cups or cookbooks. In so doing, she’d given me a living demonstration of Castiglione’s true art, “that art which does not seem to be art,” one best learned through practice and imitation, rather than bookish study.
And this, I realize, is the most important lesson of all: To cook as they do in Rome — a place where they know the best recipe is no recipe at all — the only secret ingredient you really need is a pinch of your own sprezzatura.
IF YOU GO
WHERE TO EAT
You can track down authentic Roman classics, or the ingredients to make them, in these markets, delicatessens and restaurants — all notable for offering a generous helping of sprezzatura.
Forno Campo de’ Fiori,Vicolo del Gallo, 14; fornocampodefiori.com.
Il Gelato di San Crispino, Via della Panetteria, 42; ilgelatodisancripino.it.
Sant’Eustachio Il Caffè, Piazza Sant’Eustachio, 82; santeustachioilcaffe.it.
Felice a Testaccio, Via Mastro Giorigo, 29; feliceatestaccio.it.
Flavio al Velavevodetto, Via di Monte Testaccio, 97; ristorantevelavevodetto.it.
Da Cesare al Casaletto, Via del Casaletto, 45; 39-06536015.
Mercato Trionfale, Via Andrea Doria, 3; marketsofrome.com/markets/trionfale-market.
La Tradizione, Via Cipro, 8; latradizione.it.