What is that thing? Hey, a little respect, please. This happens to be one of the glories of Roman Jewish cooking, a single carciofo alla giudea. A star in every sense. Take an artichoke, flatten it out by pressing it against a hard surface, then deep fry it and serve it without garnish (a little salt, perhaps, a little parsley) to a happy, happy diner. I had my first in Rome in the early 1980s. And this one is being served to Jay on his first trip to Rome, too, on the patio at Ba’ Ghetto in Rome’s, you guessed it, Jewish ghetto.
July 31, 2014
No wonder Dr. Blake is smiling. He’s about to dig into his first taste of carciofi alla giudea. I’d been rhapsodizing about this deep-fried whole artichoke, a specialty of Roman Jewish cuisine, ever since I’d tried it on my first trip to the Eternal Città back in the early 1980s. The leaves are crispy, the heart soft. A great combination. Right, Dr. Blake? (A closeup of the deep-fried star tomorrow.)
July 30, 2014
When I lived in Rome for months at a time during the 1980s, things were different. The Jewish ghetto was, well, a ghetto without a lot of outside influences. The currency was still the lira and the exchange rate was excellent. And there were lots of tiny trattorie where you could get an excellent meal for next to nothing. Flash forward some 25 years. Mass tourism has raised prices sky-high. The euro makes things even more expensive. And look at this fancy cheese shop in the middle of the Jewish ghetto. There are still good meals to be had. But no more bargains in any areas frequented by tourists.
July 29, 2014
When I was returning to Rome, this time with Jay, after 23 years, I had no idea where to eat. Restaurants come and go, and I wanted to know some of the places that stayed put for good reason. So I asked my friend Sylvia, an NPR reporter based in Rome for decades now. I mentioned that I wanted to eat carciofi alla giudea, the famed deep-fried artichokes of the Roman Jewish ghetto. She recommended Ba’ Ghetto, seen here. Actually, given that this is a kosher establishment, they have two restaurants across from one another. One serves meat. The other, “Milky,” serves dairy. And both serve the artichokes. Are they open on Sunday? You bet. But not on Saturday.
July 28, 2014
July 27, 2014
St. Peter’s Basilica is impressive enough. But how much more wonderful was it to come upon this procession one Sunday morning, banners proudly held, purple-cloaked penitents walking backwards so that they are always facing the statue being incensed, still to come into view.
July 26, 2014
What a treat it was for me to introduce Jay to Pizzeria da Pasquale, home of my favorite potato pizza in Rome. When I lived nearby in 1984, 1986 and 1988, I was a regular customer, selecting pizza a taglio (pieces cut to order, charged by weight) from whatever kinds were on offer. Seen here on the right: potato and zucchini in the back, sausage in the front. On the left: an assortment of stuffed pizze (crusts on top and bottom; filling in between.) Of course, for Jay’s first visit, we had a rich assortment.