Eating spaghetti alla carbonara in Rome was one of my most memorable food moments. You know, those particular meals you remember forever and measure every other morsel that passes your lips against…but was it as good as the time we had spaghetti….
The waiter took one look at us and asked ” in inglese?”
“Let me try” I replied, not confidently.
We were there for spaghetti alla carbonara. I was desperate to try this quintessential roman dish and a recommendation from a friend living in Rome had given me reason to believe it was going to be good. I ordered our pasta, wine and insalata mista (mixed salad) and the waiter waited, patiently.
“Your Italian is as good as my english” he told us, eyes sparkling. I’m not sure if that was a compliment or not!
We sipped our wine as the sun went down beyond Campo de fiori, not really hungry at all but hungry for this experience.
When our spaghetti arrived and was placed in front of us respectfully but without flourish, I inhaled it’s savoury aroma and tried hard to be in the moment, swirling the long strands onto my fork and lifting it to my lips with my eyes closed. As the pasta slid from my fork into my mouth my eyes opened wide in surprise and delight.
It tasted amazing.
Salty, soft, savoury and sharp notes from parmigiano and pecorino romano. The crunch of the guanciale, the texture of eggs whisked to a perfectly smooth sauce. The firm bite of al dente spaghetti.
Good food has an ability to make you feel alive, to engage all of your senses in one dizzy hit. It can insight pure joy. Celebration and presence.
As someone who would usually avoid gluten and dairy, you are probably wondering if by some magical force I was able to digest this indulgence easily and without pain.
Well, no, I was not.
But, allora, it was worth it.
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