Exploring Rome with a Food Tour
A Taste of Rome
See Rome with a Food Tour
We took the early food tour, and woke to an absolute downpour. Lucky for us, as we met Francesca, who would be our guide for the day, the rain stopped, and the perfect day in Rome started to take shape. Our first stop, naturally, was to check out a local bakery that is known for their fantastic pizzas. You’ll notice a lot of bakeries frequented by locals have only the family name above the door – this is a mark of quality!
Watch what the locals buy in certain places – often, bakeries will have one speciality, such as pizza, and rarely go ‘across the board’, preferring to stick to what they do best!
The Local Market
Francesca then took us around the local market that sets up every morning and disappears without a trace by late afternoon. We’d eaten nearby the previous evening and walked right through this area and wouldn’t have had a clue!
The square is now surrounded by restaurants but was once a very different story. The market began as a way to bring life into the old place of executions – with a statue in the middle to commemorate those whose lives were cut short here!
When you go to Italian markets, look out for the signs with each produce telling you where it’s travelled from – the secret to awesome Italian flavours is to source local, seasonal produce for cooking, and using only a few ingredients, let the flavours speak for themselves!
Next stop was just across the square to another bakery – this one specialising in meats and cheese. We tried buffalo mozzarella that had just been made a couple of hours earlier, pecorino romano that the Italians use in their cooking as a salt substitute, and spicy salami to offset the saltiness!
Pizza rosso, topped with a tomato based sauce, and pizza bianco, plain pizza often served up with prosciutto like a sandwich. Francesca explained that Roman’s eat pizza every day, so omitting the cheese is what keeps them slim!
The Jewish Ghetto
Our Rome Food Tour walk through the Jewish Ghetto was another enlightening experience; we hadn’t expected to learn so much about Roman history on our food tour! Juxtaposed to hearing about the area’s harrowing past, the present looked lively and had a real community feel about it. We stopped at one of the local restaurants, open for only a couple of hours over lunch each day, and serving up whatever two or three dishes they have created specifically for that day. Absolutely gorgeous food – and without Francesca, we never would have stopped here!
On a well needed walk, we continued through the Jewish Ghetto and across the river. In places, ‘new Rome’ has been excavated and beside, between and beneath the modern day buildings you can see the ruins of ancient Rome – pretty cool! Here we also saw a truck attempting to reverse out of a street, hit a car twice and then drive off – another pretty typical Italian sight apparently!
Lunch in Trastevere
As if we needed any more feeding, it was time for lunch in Trastevere. Francesca led us away from the tourist scene and we immediately found a blissful silence – and the best lunch we’d had in Italy! Over a glass of wine, we enjoyed bucatini (thick spaghetti with a hole down the middle) in a tomato based sauce. Simple and delicious!
Francesca told us there are two reasons to eat pasta al dente – it tastes better and isn’t digested as quickly, so your body takes less from it and it’s easily walked off. A winner after the amount we’d been eating already!
We finished up with real, Italian gelato, and learned how to spot the difference for ourselves. The perfect end to the perfect experience of Rome…
How to Spot Real Italian Gelato
There are plenty of shops in all Italy’s tourist hot spots offering ‘real Italian gelato’ – and to the undiscerning eye (and taste buds) they’d get away with passing off their regular old ice cream as the real deal gelato. Lucky for us, we picked up these few tips from the amazing Francesca at Gourmetaly so now we know exactly how to spot the Italian specialty.
Gelato is derived from the Latin word gelātus, which simply means frozen. The process is all done by hand, with minimal ingredients of the finest quality. Fruit gelato will be prepared with real fruit, and no preservatives, for example – letting the flavours speak for themselves!
Ice cream, on the other hand, generally contains many more ingredients, and a lot that are just added for flavour and sweetness – meaning you can eat more gelato and feel less guilty about it! The lack of preservatives in gelato means that it will only last for 2-3 days, and with each being painstakingly and lovingly prepared by hand, you can expect to find a much smaller selection of flavours in the shop at any given time – they wouldn’t want all that effort going to waste!
Real gelato will be flat in its container in the display – the highly piled tubs you see in many displays are your first and most obvious teller that it is regular ice cream they’re selling, rather than authentic gelato. The reason that it sits flat in its tub is that it is a different consistency from ice cream and wouldn’t hold this shape – and that means as well that it melts a lot quicker, so is most often served in tubs as it would soak through a cone pretty quickly!
We all love a good ice cream from time to time, but when in Rome…you might as well eat the real deal Italian gelato. Plus, it’s better for you. Win, win.
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