Cultured Palate: Dishes from Italy

4. Pasta Carbonara

Many restaurants in North America start their pasta carbonara with a healthy pour of cream. In Italy, home and restaurant chefs make the best carbonara in the world using an emulsion of eggs and oil, heated through so that they coat the strands of pasta, but not so hot that the eggs scramble. The most decadent carbonara is finished off with a handful of chopped guanciale, charcuterie made of cured pork jowl. Get the best traditional carbonara at Da Enzo restaurant in Rome’s trendy Trastevere neighborhood.

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5. Carciofi alla giudia

Carciofi alla giudia is one of the most popular dishes in Roman Jewish cuisine. Made of fresh artichokes which are prepared with lemon, salt, and pepper, they are then deep-fried to a golden, crunchy crispness. The ideal time for this dish is when artichokes are in season, usually between February and April. For the most traditional preparation, find them at any of the restaurants in Rome’s Jewish Ghetto, especially Gigetto, a tiny hole in the wall spot known for their spectacular carciofi.

6. Baccalà

Typical of the Campagnia region, baccalà is dried, salted cod that requires a minimum of 48 hours to soak before being prepared. Legend has it that there are as many ways to prepare baccalà as there are days in the year. When traveling in Venice, baccalà will always be served with polenta — and ideally, a dry white wine. In Rome, typical preparation will involve different veggies like tomatoes and potatoes. While it might seem a bit labor-intensive, the soaking process makes the fish intensely flaky and delicious. Many Italians eat baccalà on Fridays, in keeping with the Catholic tradition of eating fish on Fridays.

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