Italy is the paradise for fresh food! But, where do Italians go to shop? Explore the tradition for grocery shopping in Rome
Local people prefer to buy fresh foods in the grocery stores or the farmers’ markets, instead of supermarkets.
Cheese, prosciutto, salami, vegetables or fruits are better coming directly from quality producers. Italians give a lot of importance to the freshness and the quality of food, indeed. Usually, when we go in a grocery store, or in the farmer’s market near home. We know the sellers personally assuming that, most of the time, they can better select foods for us. So, we can shop better than in a supermarket.
Why professional vendors are better
Picture this: you’re strolling past a street market and your eyes fall upon some delectable mozzarella or juicy peaches. What’s even better than snagging these tasty treats? Having a friendly chat with the vendor and learning all about the products! You can discover where they come from, the production process, and even the different varieties available. Good luck getting that kind of insider info at a supermarket! No more label-reading marathons – just good company and tasty eats. And hey, who doesn’t love a good natter?
Grocery stores in Italy are called in different ways: Alimentari, Salumeria, Salsamenteria, Gastronomia.
Here is possible to find also olive oil, dried or fresh pasta and sometimes bread or pizza bianca (the roman white pizza). But, in Rome, it’s easy to find also some shops called Norcineria. The Norcineria is a specific grocery store, selling the typical products from Norcia, a tiny city placed in Umbria region, one of the central regions of the Boot. This region is popular for products as sheep’s cheese, wild boar meat, prosciutto and truffles. As regards fresh vegetables and fruits, the farmers’ markets are the best choice. There are plenty of markets in almost every biggest squares of Rome, as the one of Campo de’ Fiori or Trastevere and Testaccio neighborhoods. This is the best place to purchase some seasonal food. The prices are usually cheaper than in a supermarket and the labels on each box of fruits and vegetables tell you the origin (usually from the surroundings), the category that indicates the quality and the price that is most of the time per kilo.
Let’s go pratics: for the perfect roman Carbonara pasta, what do we need?
First of all, let’s buy some good Guanciale, that is the part of the cheek and the neck of the pork. Indeed, Guanciale as a name, derives from “guancia”, the Italian word for cheek. Its uniqueness lies in the cut of the meat. The external season for the curing is salt, pepper, garlic, rosemary and sometimes, chilli. The meat ages for at least three months. In this period, it forms the hard crust that characterizes the outside. While the interior gains a very intense flavor.
The difference between Guanciale and Bacon is significant.
Firstly, guanciale is more tender than bacon, due, clearly, to the cut of the meat. Secondly, the flavor is stronger in the guanciale which requires an number of spices and herbs. The bacon, instead, offers more smokey aromas. The second essential ingredient is the Pecorino Romano cheese. This is a hard cheese, cooked, made with fresh whole sheep’s milk, produced in Lazio region. It is a hard and crumbly cheese with a granular texture, which makes it perfect for grating. It has a strong, sharp, and salty flavor with a slightly nutty undertone. Pecorino Romano is aged for a minimum of five months, although some versions can be aged for a year or more, resulting in a more intense flavor. Black pepper, fresh eggs and, of course, a quality dried pasta are the perfect conclusion for this amazing recipe.
Mezze maniche or Spaghetti?
In Rome we usually prefer to pair Carbonara sauce with Spaghetti or the so called Mezze Maniche pasta, that literally means “short sleeve”. Remember that for our authentic Carbonara we never add milk cream and pasta needs to be “al dente”!