Italy was my childhood sweetheart.
10 Things to Know about Roman Food
1. Don’t drink cappuccino after midday – cappuccino is a morning drink; caffè (or espresso) is for later in the day. The milk slows your digestion (apparently).
2. Do drink your cappuccino standing up at the “bar” – not, in fact, a place to drink alcohol in the evening, but a place to get a coffee and a cornetto in the morning. Plus, in the touristy areas, it’s literally about a third of the price if you drink your coffee standing up instead of sitting down!
3. Don’t mistake your supplì for a bitterbal – while both snacks are utterly yummy in their own unique ways, you won’t find rice or mozzarella in your Dutch borrelhapjes.
4. Do lose yourself in the Trastevere neighbourhood – a charming, cobbled-stoned labyrinth of tiny streets with a different foodie find on every corner… Ahhh, Trastevere, did we just have a foodie affair?!
5. Don’t expect to get that ultra-thin-crust Roman pizza before 7.30 pm – the wood ovens aren’t fired up until the evening. At lunchtime, buy thicker pizza by the slice (you choose the size of your slice and they weigh it to determine the price) from one of the city’s 5,300 (!!) places selling the stuff.
6. Do taste the porchetta at Antica Norcineria – it is life-changing. Trust me – I’m a pork addict.*
7. Don’t forget that Italian food is more regional than us northern Europeans will ever understand – when in Rome, don’t order spaghetti alla puttanesca. That’s from Campania – obvs. Instead, try a Roman speciality like tonnarelli al cacio e pepe – for a 3-ingredient sauce (pecorino, pepper and cooking water), it’s pretty darn addictive.
8. Do get your cannoli stuffed to order – because no one wants a soggy cannoli, do they?
9. Don’t mistake that bright green fluffy cold stuff for real-deal gelato – if the colour looks fake, the ice cream undoubtedly is too. Only step inside a gelateria if the colours of the flavours are the same as you’d find in nature (is the inside of a banana bright yellow?).
10. Do take advantage of free snacks at aperitivo o’clock – somewhere between after work and dinner time, many cafes will serve tasty bites if you order drinks. Try ordering an Aperol Spritz or an Ugo cocktail and see what happens – free food!**
*I tried this on Eating Italy’s Twilight Trastevere Food Tour – the client I was working for while out in Rome doing my freelance-foodie business. In fact, I learnt a lot of this stuff from them – just saying.
**Thanks to the lovely Maria from HeartRome who took me out for aperitivo o’clock!