This Little Piggy Went to Ariccia

When a visit to the Colosseum turns into a cliché and Galleria Borghese becomes just another museum to tick off the to-do list, a traveller’s interest can easily head south, to their stomach. And south-east is the direction to take out of Rome, along Via Appia Nuova, past the Pope’s summer residence of Castel Gandolfo, towards the village of Ariccia.

Deep inside la foresta, long wooden benches stretched in parallel lines from the car park towards the tenebrous woods ahead. Plates of black olives, Taleggio cheese and pane casereccio, a rustic crusty bread adorned the rolls of paper that extended over oblong tables. Hordes of al fresco diners, families, couples, young and old, welcomed short rotund tumblers and bottles of unnamed libation, red, white and transparent in colour. Accordions, guitars and vocals filled the forest air as patrons swayed to popular folk songs and Italian arias, singing to the tunes of ‘O Sole mio, Funiculì, Funiculà, even La Cumparsita.

porchetta

Generous plates of pasta all’amatriciana were served, a thick spaghetti dish made with a fragrant sauce of tomatoes, onions, garlic, hot peppers, pancetta and grated Pecorino cheese.

Buon appetito echoed into the evening.

Then the guest of honour, la porchetta, was presented, wrapped in humble brown paper.

Long-time friends and Romans, Maurizio and Patricia insisted that no visit to Roma was complete without a porchetta experience. This was not a mere suckling pig spit-roasted in a wood fired oven, or forno di legno. One was to engage in an old custom, enjoyed at religious festivals of the temple of Jupiter in the neighbouring Alban hills. Naturalmente.

Maurizio explained that the preparation of porchetta [por-ketta] dates back to Roman times. According to tradition, the pig must be aged to six to seven months old, and must be cooked whole, flavoured with a mix of salt, pepper, garlic and wild fennel. High cooking temperatures of around 300 °C ensured that the fat was rendered, leaving the meat tender, moist and redolent with the herb flavours.

Earthy. Rustic. Satisfying.

As the waning moon slid across a deep indigo sky past swaying branches in the summer breeze, we continued to sway to the tunes of la dolce vita.

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This Little Piggy Went to Ariccia was last modified: December 20th, 2015 by Corinne Mossati

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Corinne Mossati

Corinne Mossati is the founder and editor of Gourmantic. An avid scribe, she has taken pen to paper since the age of five. Her repertoire includes long works of fiction, short stories and travelogues. She is a winner of the GT travel writing competition, has judged the Australasian Whisky Awards and several cocktail competitions. She is also named in the Australian Bartender Most Influential List.