You know that moment when you meet someone new? And they ask you where you are from and you say “Chicago/New York/ Atlanta…..” or where ever? And then they say “Oh, I have a friend in “Chicago/ New York/ Atlanta….” and expect you to know them? Happens all the time, right?
Well, actually, if you ask me that about my city, Rome, there is a pretty good chance I will know that person.
While Rome is definitely a city, sometimes it feels more like a little village. And in my world of expat, food-obsessed, journalistic writers, we do, in fact, know each other. And run into each other all the time.
One of the people who I’m lucky enough to run into quite often is Rachel Roddy. I first met Rachel when she was working at the American Academy, helping my friend Mona edit this very excellent cookbook. Although, to tell you the truth, I felt I already knew Rachel from her blog, which I was a big fan of.
These days one of the places I am most likely to run into Rachel is the Testaccio Market. Rachel has been living, and cooking and writing, about this neighborhood since she moved to Rome from England. It is now most definitely her home, and the market is the place she finds inspiration on a daily basis for what she cooks up in her kitchen and, most recently, on the pages of her new book: My Kitchen in Rome.
The book is a gorgeous exploration of not just the neighborhood, and Rachel’s discovery of it through its dishes, but a way of life that is truly Roman and seems on the verge of disappearing.
Last week I wandered around the market with Rachel, and then we headed back to her kitchen were she made me the most delicious lunch, cooking up one of my favorite recipes from the book. It’s a carbonara of sorts, although you won’t find any guanciale here. Instead vibrant, seasonal zucchini get tossed with onions and are then combined with an eggy-cheesey mixture that lusciously coats every strand of pasta. Carbonara-ish, in the most delicious of ways.
But don’t take my word for it. Watch this video. And then, of course, buy the book.
- 2 fresh onions
- 8 small zucchini
- 4 tblsp olive oil
- 400 gr spaghetti or linguine
- 2 eggs + 2 egg yolks
- 1 cup grated parmigiano
- 8 basil leaves
- See video
Rachel’s book : My Kitchen in Rome: Recipes and Notes on Italian Cooking
(The book is also available in the UK: Five Quarters: Recipes and Notes from a Kitchen in Rome)
If you would like to know more about the food of Testaccio, you can join me for a private food tour.