And here is the recipe for the Insalata di Carciofi I had at Roscioli, in Roma. It contains both warm and cold artichokes, so it plays with temperatures; it plays with consistency, as it contains soft cooked artichokes, crunchy raw artichokes, and very crunchy toasted pine nuts. But what really won me over is the flavour symphony. Artichokes at their best are bitter at first taste, with extremely sweet undertones revealed afterwards. This salad complements the flavour by adding the bitterness of rocket and walnut oil, so that the sweet component of artichokes shines; the nutty walnut taste is amplified by the toasted pine nuts. A fresh note of acidity comes from the raw artichokes dressed with lemon juice, and more freshness comes from the herbs the artichokes are cooked with, I think they were originally coriander and ‘mentuccia’, a mint relative that is traditional with artichokes in Rome. I used only coriander and it worked quite well.
I recently had the opportunity to spend a very short break in Rome. It is hard to find words to describe la città eterna. Actually, Rome has a weird image among Italians, being famed for its traffic, its chaos, and the loudness of the inhabitants. I am not claiming any of this to be false, but what we often do forget in Italy is the pure beauty of it. This is a very Italian attitude: we tend to get used to beauty, take it for granted, and not fight to keep it. In Rome you can literally breath history and every corner has a million little details to lose yourself into. Italy is a country with an amazing density of history and art, but Rome manages to be denser. Stendahl syndrome‘s apart, Rome is actually more than just its history or its monuments – in case they were not enough. My family comes from very close to Venice so I know it quite well. While Venice, with its unique beauty, is basically an open air museum, and its soul has been a bit lost and faded in the centuries, Rome is still a big centre of power – the Italian state and the Vatican might not be as powerful as they used to (I’m quite grateful for that actually ) but still there is an impressive number of power administration buildings and persons, and you can easily feel it while you walk around. And in Rome there is a huge amount of people living there, studying there, coming there for its cultural and entertainment attractions. There is a lot of people who choose Rome, for a reason or another, and this reason is not always work, like it is for Milan. To add even more to its charm, the light is already the bright one of Southern Italy, the climate is mild, and the city, although full of traffic and noise, offers a lot of parks, piazze, and fountains to enjoy.
What I did there was basically walking. And walking, and walking. I was motivated partly by the inevitable public transport strike – how come Italy manages to be always so Italian and meet all prejudices in one go? I also managed to visit this exhibition – if you go there, be prepared for a long queue and some overcrowding also inside, but apart from that, I strongly recommend it if you have any interest in art, even if you are not a huge fan of Caravaggio’s period or of painting.