Posted by: Madeline's Plate | December 21, 2011

A Glimpse of a Roman Family

On the front page of the WSJ.com today is a feature on “Life in the Euro Zone.” Six interviews with six European families, each talking about their current standard of life.

They don’t name the city the Italian family lives in but it was easy to recognize. Their apartment is on Via Beatrice Cenci, a small side street in the Jewish Ghetto near my favorite spot for fried artichokes.

The family has passed on the job of doorman from generation to generation…a mixed inheritance that comes with a free place to live (in a neighborhood that despite its name is quite chic)  and a life sentence of being a doorman. The 26-year-old son now wants to buck tradition, unfortunately he can’t find work. It was a familiar story to anyone who’s lived in Italy in the past five years.

At the end of each family’s vignette, the feature shows a menu of what they had for dinner. For the Roman family it consisted of:

White wine and water

Pasta with a sauce of tomato and fish

Salami, mortadella and prosciutto

Casciotta and mozzarella

Bread

The story focuses on employment, not food, but the pictures of each family show them gathered around the dining table. Food is still one of the easiest ways to understand another culture and the Italian menu they show is typical.  I studied Emilian cuisine and it’s true that Italy’s food cultures remain more regional than those of the U.S.

However, this menu shows how many Italian families are eating what could be called a national Italian cuisine: the mortadella comes from Bologna, the casciotta cheese from Le Marche and the mozzarella likely from Campania.

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