Today is Rome’s 2,769th birthday and I’m thinking about guanciale, that snowy fat streaked lean red meat from the jowls of the pig (the word “guancia” means cheek in Italian). Guanciale is an iconic ingredient in one of Rome’s most traditional and popular dishes, spaghetti alla carbonara. This tasty bit of face bacon is essential to the flavor of an authentic Roman carbonara as is freshly grated Pecorino Romano. This is not an Italian version of a Vermont maple glazed bacon and eggs but a dish that when expertly crafted (as they do in Rome) is extraordinarily delicious. The hot pasta is combined with the other ingredients then quickly mixed into the pasta making a creamy sauce that must be classically prepared to be truly appreciated.
Here are the ingredients and technique for 4 servings of Roman-style spaghetti alla carbonara.
8 ounces guanciale, diced
1 pound spaghetti
2 large eggs
1 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
In a large pan, fry the guanciale over medium-high heat until rendered and crisp, about 10 minutes.Beat eggs and pecorino together in a small bowl with a fork and set aside. Cook the spaghetti to al dente, then drain, return to pot, toss with guanciale and a portion of the rendered fat over low heat and immediately transfer to shallow bowls. Pour egg/cheese mixture over each of the four bowls, add black pepper to taste and quickly mix with a fork to slightly cook the eggs with the hot pasta. The result should be creamy, not dry. Serve immediately.
I’m not referring to Da Vinci’s less than angelic meetings with a certain Renaissance Pope but rather to this past January when Pope Francis and Leonardo di Caprio met in the Vatican to discuss climate change, a topic that is of concern to them both. Di Caprio with an interest in environmental philanthropy and Francis who is very much committed to protecting “our common home”. Pope Francis offers a papal letter Laudato Si’ (Praise Be to You) as an appeal for a “new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet”. Leo offers a childhood story he shared with Francis about a picture of “The Garden of Earthly Delights,” which he said hung over his crib.
A great image for Earth Day (April 22, 2016) of both secular and divine celebrity joining efforts to bring attention to the care of creation. A match made in heaven to save the Earth.
According to Italian coffee icon Illy, shape matters when brewing your espresso and who better than Alessi, an icon of Italian design to interpret the new shape of the traditional moka pot. The Alessi designed, Illy inspired “Pulcina” espresso coffee maker is boastfully described to improve and enhance the “organoleptic properties of coffee” because of its curvaceous shape.
Pulcina’s full-bodied shape enhances the full-bodied and rounded aroma of the coffee because of the internal shape of its special heater. Based on the special shape of the boiler , Illy has identified the ideal shape that the water boiler should take to produce the perfect cup of coffee while automatically stopping the filtering of the coffee at the right moment. This interruption helps to eliminate the eruption phase (called in the world of Italian coffee ‘the Stromboli Effect’ or the seepage of foam from the coffee) the final filtering stage that generates a burnt and bitter aftertaste, ensuring that only the finest qualities of the coffee are preserved.
Michele De Lucchi, Pulcina’s architect of design, even considered the coffee maker’s spout. A pronounced pout with a ‘V’ shape, reminiscent of a baby chick’s beak, hence the name pulcina. The spout is specially designed to perfectly cut the drops into your Illy designed cup.
A camera aboard Sentinel-2A, the ESA’s (European Space Station) polar-orbiting, multispectral high-resolution imaging mission launched in June of 2015 is part of a fleet of satellites monitoring our environment from 488 miles (786km) above the Earth. Designed to observe and map biophysical variables for land, water use and agriculture, onboard instrumentation can record some pretty amazing terrestrial events like leaf chlorophyll content, leaf water content, leaf area index and forest growth. In regions that contain large amounts of chlorophyll (essential for plant growth), healthy vegetation shows up as bright red. As expected Italy’s green heart is a healthy red.
Po Valley in Northern Italy
Avezzano in Central Italy
The vivid scarlet hues as seen in this Sentinel 2-A image, taken of the Po Valley in Northern Italy and above Avezzano in central Italy, show that the fields of Italy are lush, verdant and red! Click on the following link for more of Sentinel 2-A’s view of the fields and lakes of Italy.