There is no one type of Italian food. The type of Italian food you can find always depends on the area you are in. Overall though, you can except when eating in Italy, meals will last hours and be full of tomato. Within Roman cuisine, you are sure to find plenty of cheese and olive oil. Furthermore, certain foods are meant to only be eaten on certain days. For instance, seafood is only recommended on Tuesdays and Fridays (those are the days the fresh seafood comes into the city). Obviously, pasta is fairly central to the diet in Rome. There is even a pasta museum.
In the past four months, I’ve been able to try food specific to Rome and the area of Lazio. One is called a supplì. Basically, you take a ball of mozzarella, cover it in rice, roll the whole thing in egg and bread crumbs, and deep fry it. Suppli is definitely something that people need to try while in Rome. I’ve been told they are called supplì al telefono because if you pull them apart, the mozzarella stretches like a spiral telephone cord. Another Roman dish is called fiore di zucca, or zucchini flower. They wrap a couple zucchini blossoms around some mozzarella, dip the whole thing in dough, and fry it. The third dish is called filetto di baccalà, or a filet of salted cod. Out of all this dishes I’ve tried in Rome, this is my favorite. Basically, they take a slab of salted cod, bread it, fry it, and serve it to you with a half a lemon. The one thing you cannot expect to find in Rome is a good hamburger. Beef was never popular in Rome. More often than not, the Romans eat pork or ham.
When it comes to coffee, things are very different in Rome compared to the US. Espressos or cappuccinos are most often drunk by Italians each morning. Don’t expect a normal sized cup of coffee, instead except something more dixie-cup-size. When it comes to dinner time, wine is most popular for Italians.
While at John Cabot, SAI offers an opportunity for students to learn about cooking Italian food. A few times a semester they offer cooking classes on the terrace of the campus. They bring in Chef Andrea Consoli from a local Trastevere restaurant. For each class he teaches an appetizer, first course, second course and dessert. For the class I attended we created a rataouille of vegetables, a pasta dish, chicken breast in orange sauce, and a chocolate soufflé.
Brian is studying abroad at John Cabot University in Rome, Italy.