Cacio e pepe, along with carbonara, amatriciana, and gricia, is one of the classics of Roman cuisine. As its name, which means cheese and pepper, suggests, it should also be very simple to make. However, its signature texture, often confused for cream, is often as elusive as the Holy Grail itself.
In Italian, ‘ho fatto il giro delle sette chiese’—I’ve been around the seven churches— means that you’ve been absolutely everywhere looking for something. But what are the origins of this phrase?
Today, the city of Rome has more churches than any other city in the world, about 900 to be precise. But not all churches are created equal. Some churches, the Papal Basilicas, have a special connection to the Pope, whilst others are ordinary parish churches. In Medieval times, seven of these churches, including the four Papal Basilicas, where considered so important that a special pilgrims’ route was created, ‘la via delle sette chiese’, in which people would visit all seven of the churches in one day.
‘Truth has a thousand faces, and every face a thousand truths.’ (Anonymous)
Have you ever wondered where the word ‘palace’ comes from? Ultimately, it derives from the Latin palatium which was another name for the mons palatinus (Palatine Hill) one of Rome’s legendary seven hills.
Crystal King’s new novel, is a renaissance romp, set in the world of the Vatican’s ‘secret chefs’.
The revelation that renaissance popes had ‘secret chefs’ is enough to conjure up the kind of fare that we have been fed through a diet of books and shows about the Borgias, and have gobbled up with glee. What kind of meals would he provide at a time when pontiffs poisoned their opponents and conducted no end of affairs behind closed doors? A novel about one of these closet cooks would have to be a best-seller, right?
Writing this post was a problem. There are so many exquisite Italian pastries that limiting myself to ten was hard. My selection here is in no particular order. Some choices are obvious and some more obscure but I wanted to represent the range of pastries available up and down the country, from the extreme north of Friuli-Venezia-Giulia to the southernmost point of Sicily. I’ve also included my personal favourites. So, marvel at the variety of pastries on offer and be sure to try as many of these out as possible on your next trip to Italy.