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Garlic and onions in the cuisine of Rome

Aglio e cipolla

Onions and garlic, with their strong genuine flavours, are key ingredients of the dishes of the cuisine of Rome. Modest and humble, and also occasionally overlooked, these ingredients are actually a fundamental part of our folk traditions. The organoleptic qualities of onions and garlic are vitally important for various dishes.   Ubi allium, ibi Roma – where there is garlic, and the fragrance of garlic, there you shall find Rome! This traditional folk saying tells us that, since the times of ancient Rome, garlic has constantly been a key ingredient in very many of traditional recipes, such as abbacchio (lamb), puntarelle (an early winter chicory) and Roman-style artichokes, or carciofi alla romana, not to mention the spaghetti dish, “ajo, ojo e peperoncino” (spaghetti with garlic, olive oil and red pepper). One of simplest of all these treats is toasted bread, or bruschetta. Onions, too, are fundamental for many traditional dishes, whether soups or sauces for pasta dishes, risottos, omelettes or soffritti (onions and herbs fried in oil). Traditional fare also includes the onion alone, served with bread. A low hill, Monte Cipollaro, was once to be found between San Giovanni in Laterano and Santa Croce in Gerusalemme. It was a space set apart for cultivation of cipolle (onions) and garlic. Cipollaro also meant street onion seller.   Today’s recipe – bruschetta con aglio e olio, or toasted bread seasoned with garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper – is a simple flavoursome treat for family and friends, to be served along with a fine glass of wine. Enjoy it the way traditional cookbook writer, Ada Boni, used to prepare it. You’ll need bread, garlic cloves, salt, black pepper and an abundant dose of extra virgin olive oil. An truly excellent Roman treat!    

Recipe: bruschetta con aglio e olio

  •  Slices of bread or pagnottine (mini-loaves)
  •  2 or 3 garlic cloves
  •  extra virgin olive oil
  •  salt
  •  pepper

Directions Brown your bread (two or three slices of bread or pagnottine split into two parts) on open flames. When the bread has been toasted sufficiently, rub on the garlic. Then heat once more over the flames. Lay the bruschetta toast on a plate, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and add the olive oil.  

Where to dine out and enjoy garlic and onion specialities:

  •          Da Teo, Piazza dei Ponziani, 7a. Tel 06818355
  •          Felice, via Mastro Giorgio, 29. Tel. 065746800
  •          L'Asino D'Oro, via del Boschetto 73. Tel 0648913832
  •          La Tavernaccia, via Giovanni da Castel Bolognese, 63. Tel 065812792

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