Fiori di Zucca
Olio di Tartufo
Rape bianche 
Prugne 
Pecorino Romano

  Shopping list, Farmer’s Market, Velabro, Rome 

July:   Friend of a friend, FoF, visiting Italy remarked how the only food he was desiring was pasta alla checca,  a cute way of saying spaghetti with freshly diced tomatoes, virgin olive oil, basil and a bit of cheese.   When I invited him to chez moi for some checca, FoF’s response was “No, I want it authentic.”
Authentic?  My local market, in technical terms, authentically rocks.  GianCarlo has the most delicious pomodori ciliegini (cherry tomatoes) that he brings up daily from Sperlonga, Giacomo has a cachè of every Roman cheese possible, my no-label olive oil comes fresh pressed from Sabina and my basil leaves are picked straight off the plant.  As I told FoF, not only doesn’t it get more authentic than that, according to my nonna, my family goes all the way back to Julius Caesar.  FoF was not impressed, he preferred to go to a restaurant where he was definitely guaranteed an Italian experience, but what about authenticity of product?
Saturday:  A morning visit to the Farmer’s Market at the ex-mercato ebraico del pesce where prices are competitively lower and all products are part of the KM Zero food movement– i.e. local to Lazio.  My visit was part of a series of events promoting Lazio region produce and productions by the Ministry of Agriculture and the Rome Chamber of Congress where the focus was promotion of the trademarks DOP ( protected destination of origin) and IGP (protected geographical identification) for meats, fish, bread, oils, vinegars, cheeses, et al – whose characteristics depend mainly or exclusively from the territory in which they are produced.  In layman’s terms, these symbols let your know that your product is made of and from that particular region, that it is undeniably authentic.   

Though Saturday focused on six Laziale products– abbacchio romano (Roman lamb), ricotta romano, pecorino romano, Genzano bread, Roman artichokes and Sabina olive oil, our market visit was about familiarizing with the KM zero movement in general.  For me, the highlight was talking to Antonello Colonna, whose imperial roots show more than mine.  Colonna is the artistic force and chef of Rome’s Michelin-starred OpenColonna (which hosted Saturday’s post-market luncheon) and self-proclaimed direct descendant of Hadrian and Cicero, as marked by distinct jawline and loquacious flair.

Sunday Menu: Mmm, a morning at the market means I’m in the mood to cook and the Professor needs to add a new word to his vocabulary so we are starting with pinzimonio, palate cleanser of fresh vegetables– today, white turnips (rape bianche), but usually turnip, carrot and fennel–  and dipping sauce of olive oil garnished with salt and pepper.  My olive oil is literally fresh off the frantoio of Sabina.  It’s overcast which means carbonara (spaghetti with grated pecorino romano, egg and pancetta), and we’ll throw some in zucchini flowers for good luck.  Coup d’ètat? Our ever experimental rosemary-cherry glazed quail stuffed with diced oranges, plums and onions, accented with a hint of truffle oil.
Authentic?  To be honest, I just think about taste.

Photos of Saturday’s event with Antonello Colonna