Pasta and its many varieties

Pasta, like pizza, has made Italian cuisine famous throughout the world. In Italy there are many kinds of this product and they differ in ingredients, shapes, processes and methods of cooking. In addition, each recipe uses precise formats, so as to create a perfect combination of pasta and ingredients.
The types of pasta vary from one region to another, but also from one location to another in the same region, some over time have had a national spread, or international as spaghetti, while others have remained the exclusive heritage of their places of origin.
Among different processing methods and more or less bizarre names, the world of pasta is rich and varied, let’s discover some of its characteristics together.

Processing methods

A first fundamental difference concerns fresh and dry pasta. The first must be kept in the fridge and consumed within a few days, the second, the classic dry pasta, if stored at room temperature in the pantry, can last for several months.
Dry pasta can be stored for a long time because, thanks to the drying method, it is dehydrated during processing, thus preventing the proliferation of bacteria. Even if for convenience we tend to prefer dry pasta, we also allow ourselves the pleasure of eating fresh pasta sometimes, making sure, however, that it has been prepared and preserved with care.

There is an infinite number of shapes of pasta on the market with different costs, how to find your way around? Surely you should prefer products that are bronze drawn, a process carried out at low drying temperatures to preserve the nutritional properties of the ingredients.
The products made by artisan companies offer a higher quality both for the raw materials chosen, both for the attention they pay to the processing methods. The work of the pasta makers is based on an ancient art, which is handed down from generation to generation. Even if they continue to apply these consolidated techniques, some of them do not give up trying to distinguish themselves by combining traditional products with alternatives that capture the attention of consumers.

Each ingredient has its own pasta

Have you ever wondered why there are so many shapes and sizes of pasta? First of all to arouse the curiosity of consumers, small or large, and then because not all shapes are suitable for every ingredient. Let’s take a few examples:
1) Let’s say: Cacio e pepe, we are implying the use of long pasta, spaghetti or tonnarelli, because they blend better with the creamy sauce of this dish, typical of the Roman cuisine. A simple recipe, but extremely tasty, which includes only three ingredients: salt, black pepper and pecorino romano.
2) Spaghetti and clams are inseparable by tradition and to ensure the right creaminess to this dish with only few ingredients, long pasta is the best choice.
3) And what about the Amatriciana? Bucatini or spaghetti are the perfect shapes! This ancient recipe, born in Amatrice, was originally without tomato and had the name of Gricia (typical dish of Lazio cuisine, still very popular today). The addition of tomatoes to the other ingredients, peppery guanciale (cured pork cheek) and pecorino romano, is subsequent to their being imported from the Americas. For both the Amatriciana and the Gricia, rigatoni are a valid alternative to spaghetti and bucatini.
4) If we move to the south of the boot, in Puglia we find the orecchiette with turnip tops (also called “strascinati”). The recipe requires that the pasta is cooked with vegetables and sautéed with garlic, oil and anchovies, the orecchiette are perfect to ensure a good result.

The pasta, as well as for its shape and production, also differs for the flours used in the dough. For example, Tacconi, originating in the Marche region, has wheat flour and broad bean flour in the dough; the gnocchi are prepared with potatoes, flour, eggs and salt.  Rice, buckwheat and corn flours are some of the flours used to produce gluten-free pasta.
The shapes and recipes that characterize this traditional dish of Italian cuisine are numerous. You are spoilt for choice between tradition and innovation!
If you are passionate about pasta, and in particular the typical dishes of Roman cuisine, il Piccolo Mondo is the restaurant for you, we are waiting for you!
For reservations please contact us at 06 42016034.

,

Cacio e pepe: the four most common errors

Cacio e pepe (cheese and black pepper) embodies the true essence of Roman cuisine. In the capital, pasta is a religion: Roman cuisine is based on poor first courses, those made with few ingredients, but good and nutritious. Let’s talk about Carbonara, Amatriciana, of its tomato-less variant, the Gricia, and of the Cacio e Pepe. And it is precisely about the latter that we will talk about, giving you suggestions that will help you to prepare it as well as possible.

 

 How and when does Cacio e Pepe come into being?

This dish with ancient origins was born in the pastures during the period of the transhumance, i.e. the seasonal migration of flocks from pastures in the countryside Roman to the mountains. During these long journeys the shepherds brought with them caloric and long-life foods, including: dried spaghetti, pecorino cheese and black pepper grains. And it is precisely from the union of these three simple ingredients that Cacio e Pepe is born.

The choice of these foods was not random, but dictated by precise needs. Let’s see together such as:
– the pasta was used for its caloric and carbohydrate intake;
black pepper was used to counteract the cold, because it stimulates the heat receptors;
– the pecorino guaranteed the protein intake and having a long shelf life, it was not was never missing from supplies.
This traditional dish has continued to fascinate the Romans and over the years has also won over tourists visiting the Eternal City. Its fame over time became international.

Four mistakes to avoid

Although it is an institution in Roman cuisine and seems to be easy to prepare for its few ingredients, the Cacio e Pepe is not without risks at all: the mistake is always around the corner…

Here are collected the four most common errors which you can make during his preparation:

1) Using any type of pasta: the tradition dictates the use of the long pasta, spaghetti, or better yet, tonnarelli. Over the years other types of pasta have been used, such as rigatoni, tagliolini, etc. Let’s give space to alternatives, not forgetting, however, that you should not choose a type of pasta excessively porous, because it risks absorbing too much of the seasoning, which instead must maintain the creaminess that distinguishes it.

2) Cooking the pasta wrong: the pasta for the Cacio e Pepe must be drained very much al dente. The cooking must be completed over a low heat in a frying pan along with the previously roasted pepper. Once the cooking is complete, add the
creamy cheesy sauce, prepared separately in a bowl with pecorino cheese and pasta cooking water. Only now is the pasta ready to be put into the dishes. Draining the very al dente pasta will guarantee you doing all the steps without risking to
to overcook it.

3) Putting cream to give creaminess to the dish: the ingredients of this dish are three and that’s all! The secret to making the pasta creamy lies in preparing the creamy sauce by gradually pouring grated pecorino cheese and cooking water (rich in starch released from the pasta) in a bowl, stirring with a whisk to prevent lumps from forming. It’s wise to use
cooking water to make the dish creamy and not by adding others ingredients such as oil, butter or cream.

4) Having the wrong kind of cheese: the cacio of “Cacio e pepe” is nothing more than Roman pecorino cheese. Although it is a generic term that indicates any sheep’s milk cheese, in the Roman cuisine and tradition for cacio they mean Roman pecorino cheese.

Put these suggestions into practice and your Cacio e Pepe will be impeccable! If the dishes of the Roman cuisine are your passion, at restaurant Il Piccolo Mondo you can enjoy them prepared according to the dictates of tradition. We are waiting for you!

For reservations please contact us at 06 42016034.

,

Pasta alla carbonara: 4 fun facts about the most loved and discussed dish.

 If you visit Rome and don’t taste the pasta alla carbonara you can say that you haven’t really been there.

This dish, together with others (like the amatriciana), expresses the Roman culture.
In fact, in Italy you can say that the cuisine represents the culture of the country and to confirm this last statement is a survey carried out by Coldiretti that places it as the top player of food and wine tourism: 23% of foreigners choose it for cooking.

In this article we talk about a dish that, all those who have been Rome, have tasted and loved from the first mouthful: pasta alla carbonara.

Even if it is the main dish of Italian cuisine, its history has been much discussed. 
It can be said that it is not a 100% Italian recipe but that the “made in Italy” emerges from the ingredients and traditions purely typical.

Deepening this topic we discover together 4 fun facts about pasta alla carbonara:

1) It has uncertain origins


It is said that the pasta alla carbonara was born in 1944 with the arrival of English and American troops on the line between Lazio, Molise and Campania. 
  Soldiers used to make pasta with the ingredients they could find more easily (the eggs and canned bacon they had brought with them).  At that time they tasted it and became fond of what can be said to be the ancestor of pasta alla carbonara: the cacio e ova abruzzese to which, for being homesick, they added the typical ingredients of their breakfast.

2) It took the name of pasta alla carbonara from the woodcutters


It is said that the famous dish took its name from the woodcutters of the Apennines who collected wood to make charcoal. 
  They cooked pasta alla carbonara using the ingredients easily available and preserved, the guanciale and eggs.  Components that were often carried with them during the periods when they supervised the charcoal pile and were far from home for long periods.

3) Guanciale or pancetta? Parmesan or pecorino? 


The official recipe provides as ingredients guanciale for the delicacy and sweetness of the flavor and pecorino because it was the ingredient they produced that was easily preserved and available. 
 Today, parmesan cheese is also used, or a mix of parmesan and pecorino cheese that makes the dish less salty.
 In any case, the original recipe provides for the use of pecorino from Abruzzo because it is less salty than the Roman one and because it derives from the typical “cacio e ova” in which pecorino was the basic ingredient.

4) Not everyone uses guanciale


Although the real recipe is to use the guanciale exclusively for its consistency, many people opt for the use of smoked pancetta. 
 This choice is induced not only by the economic factor (because pancetta costs less) but also because it is less fat as it is a different cut of meat that is also easier to find. 
  This option is not only widespread in families but also in restaurants, in fact is an example of a famous restaurant in Rome “da Danilo” that serves carbonara with smoked pancetta.

Although there are many variations of this dish, it is important to remember and pass on the authentic recipe of pasta alla carbonara because it represents the history and culinary traditions of Rome.

And how do you prepare it? Are you in favour of tradition, or do you prefer to make changes?

Take a look at our menu to try our alla carbonara and much more!