Pasta alla gricia
|Place of origin||Italy|
|Region or state||Lazio|
|Main ingredients||pasta, guanciale, pecorino, black pepper, salt|
Since the early ages of the Roman Empire, in the typical Roman rustic and traditional restaurants, defined as osteria, culinary experimentation were performed. These have given rise to the most important traditional Roman dishes, among which, one of the most ancient is pasta alla gricia. According to historical reports, this recipe was born in 400 A.D. in Rome itself and is also known as white amatriciana.
There exists no exact clarity about the origins of the word gricia. Some interpretations say that grici is the way Greek bakers were referred to. They used to be the only experts of the art of making bread and would only transmit their expertise to their children, without ever teaching the Romans. They were supposedly very hard working and not keen on spending money in the city. They would mostly spend their time in their bakeries, where they would work, eat and sleep. Pasta alla gricia is one of the simple and quick dishes that they would prepare: very few ingredients, easy to find and extremely simple preparation.
Another theory about the origin of this dish claims that it was invented in a town called Grisciano, in the region of Lazio. This town is located close to Amatrice, where amatriciana was born on a later date, given that back then tomatoes had not been brought to the region yet. This theory claims therefore that the recipe was then spread to the entire region of Lazio. According to this interpretation, perhaps more probable for the root of the word and for the pastoral tradition of the territory, the correct diction of the dish would be "griscia" and not "gricia", erroneous Italianization of the lemma. Moreover, not far from Grisciano, Amatrice saw the light of a classic of Italian cuisine: pasta alla amatriciana, which is nothing but a more elaborate form of gricia, its ancestor, of which it maintains its basic structure. The ancient oral tradition of the Italian central Apennine region, in fact, confirms this thesis, while the emigration of the dish in the capital is due to the graphic position of Grisciano, point of passage to Rome, therefore of refreshment, in the past, as today.
The preparation of pasta alla gricia is very simple and quick. There are several interpretations of the recipe, however there exists no great variance
- Heat up water in a pot until it starts boiling
- Add 3 tablespoons of salt for a pot for 4 people
- Cook pasta al dente (400g)
- Cook guanciale or pancetta or bacon chopped in small cubes or stripes, in a frying pan, until fat melts almost completely (200g-300g)
- Roast cooked pasta in the frying pan for 2 minutes, where guanciale (or pancetta or bacon) was previously cooked
- Add grated pecorino romano and black pepper to the frying pan and stir to blend the ingredients