Book Review: Eating Rome, by Elizabeth Minchilli
In just about a month I will depart for Rome, and I can hardly wait. Not because I’m going somewhere new, but because I’m going somewhere I’ve been many times (at last count I think it was 15 but I’ve kind of lost track). When you go somewhere year after year like I do to Rome, some interesting things happen.You learn to get around the city largely without a map, which makes it feel more like home and makes you feel less like a tourist. You meet people who you begin to see regularly and who become your friends – for me that includes Flavia, whose home my guests and I always visit for dinner one night. And you find your favorite spots – your favorite bar for coffee (Sant’Eustachio Il Caffè), your favorite piazza for people watching (Piazza della Rotunda), your favorite pasta dish (carbonara), your favorite place for a sunset cocktail (rooftop bar at the Hotel Minerva), and your favorite shops.But something else happens when you visit a place over and over: you venture past the “must see” highlights of a place, yearn to get to know the city better, and crave learning the secrets from locals and insiders. I met Elizabeth Minchilli when I was in Rome last year to chat about our businesses and shared contacts. We shared a coffee and a gelato, talked for a bit, then went our separate ways. But I’ve been waiting patiently for her book to come out ever since, knowing it was going to give me the insider’s view of Rome I really longed for.Eating Rome did not disappoint. In fact, it kept me company while I was recovering from my knee replacement surgery this summer. I loved lounging on the patio, reading about her life in Rome, and compiling a list of places I would go and things I would see on my upcoming trip. Elizabeth, while American by birth, has spent much if not most of her life in Italy, and her experience shows in this book (some of her stories are just charming). When I get to Rome in late September, as a result of reading Elizabeth’s book, I plan to watch pizza bianca being made at Il Forno Campo de’Fiori (and sample some), stop in at Norcineria Viola for their vast selection of cured pork products, try affogato (espresso and gelato) at Fiocco di Neve near the Pantheon, sample the bucatini all’amatriciana at Tonino, enjoy a granita di caffè at Tazza d’Oro solo sotto, and treat myself to a Negroni at the Bar La Terazza in Hotel Eden or at the top floor bar of the Hotel Forum.I plan to make a day of it in the Testaccio area, where oddly I’ve never visited except to go by taxi to Eataly. I will visit the Testaccio market, stop in at the famous Volpetti “temple of gastronomia”, see the discarded amphorae forming Monti de Cocci, and have carbonara at Perilli for lunch. I’ll of course stop in at Eataly before heading back to my hotel – if only to stock up on copies of Green Eggs and Ham in Italian (great baby shower gifts!).Yes, these are all things that I learned or became inspired by thanks to Elizabeth Minchilli’s Eating Rome. The book is also full of etiquette advice which thankfully I’ve already learned on my many trips to Italy, and each chapter includes recipes along with lists of places talked about in the book. I’m so happy to have the book that I just ordered a copy for my iPad so I can easily take it with me, and I ordered a copy for all of my guests joining me on my food and wine trip to Italy this year. If you love Rome like I do, then you need to get this book!
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