Roman Food: Panino con Porchetta

I thought us Brits were masters of a pig sandwich. Most of us have grown up on a Saturday morning diet of sausage sarnies and bacon baps. We’ve all enjoyed a great big gorgeously greasy hog roast on Bonfire night. 

Sadly, I think the Roman counterpart comes up trumps - a panino con porcehetta puts our sad and limp water-pumped sausage slapped between two slices of white hovis to shame.

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Acetaia del Cristo: Learn about balsamic vinegar in Modena

By virtue of it no longer being the 1950s, most people in the UK know what balsamic vinegar is. It has fast become a staple in many a middle-class household cupboard, whipped out and laboriously sloshed over salads across the nation. Sometimes we might even go fancy and buy a ‘balsamic glaze’, to spruce up a cheese board or a few strawberries because Jamie Oliver says its a good idea. 

Actually, we’re doing it all wrong. 

The stuff we’re buying by the bottle from the supermarket isn't the proper stuff at all. A good balsamic vinegar is more expensive than a decent bottle of wine. It’s thick, syrupy, sweet and acidic in equal measures, and you can only get the real Aceto di Balsamico from Modena

I paid a visit to Acetaia del Cristo, a farm which has been produced this beautifully brown syrupy stuff for over four generations to learn all about it. 

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All the Focaccia

These thick, oily, fluffy slabs of joy will make you seriously reconsider the point of any alternative breakfast or snack. In fact, I owe my rapidly decreasing wardrobe (only the baggiest, loosest attire has made the cut) solely to the increase in focaccia I am injesting. 

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Salsa di Noci

I like to think of Salsa di Noci as Pesto’s less popular, vastly underrated little sister. It’s another typical Ligurian salsa fresca, but prepared with walnuts, instead of pine nuts, and olive oil, cheese, garlic, salt and often soaked bread. 

Perhaps part of the reason there isn't much buzz about it, is due to its very unfortunate appearance; once the walnuts and cheese are pounded together it forms a sort of sticky, beige substance which no filter can fix. 

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The Art of the Aperitivo

Def. The glorious few hours between around 5pm and 9pm, where most alcoholic (and some non-alcoholic) beverages are accompanied by an assortment of nibbles. These nibbles can range from olives and peanuts to tiny pizza like pastries, cold cuts and crostini, to a full on buffet service (apericena).

 

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Pesto please

Pesto, that gloriously green, garlicky, sludgy stuff, has gotten a bad reputation for itself in the UK. Ranking somewhere between a jar of Dolmio’s and a packet of Uncle Ben’s, it is now the remit of impoverished students and busy parents, poured from a La Sacla jar onto a bowl of penne, served with profuse apology and accompanied with a ‘so sorry, its just pesto pasta’. 

In Liguria, pesto is revered.

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