San Francisco is not known for its breadth of Roman food. Thus, a San Franciscan might ask, "What exactly constitutes Roman food, anyway?" The answer can be found in Tasting Rome, a new cookbook (available now) from author, ex-pat, and Eater's Rome correspondent, Katie Parla.
According to Parla, "cucina romana" is all about simplicity. And carbo-loading, since pasta is cheap, and the Italian economy is not exactly cooperating with everyone's dinner plans. Most people in Rome aren't dining out that much, she says, preferring to head out for a simple plate of pasta with friends instead of enduring the elaborate tasting menus that Americans crave.
Pizza, pasta, fried snacks and great bread are part of the appeal of Roman food, which is largely simple and traditional. "Cucina creativa" has not caught on there, says Parla, referring to the modernist techniques that flood the kitchens of America (and San Francisco). "It's as tough for them to translate as it is for us to translate the simplicity of Roman cuisine."
To learn more about the food of Rome, and how to cook it: stop by Omnivore Books tonight (Thursday, April 28) for a talk on the history of Jewish Roman cuisine and book signing from 6:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m. Admission is free.
Meanwhile, here's where to find Roman bites in San Francisco: