porchetta

One of my first meals after moving to Italy in 2003 was a huge feast at a fraschetta in Ariccia in the Castelli Romani just southeast of Rome. I drove out there with some friends I worked with at the St. Stephen’s School, following the Appia Nuova southeast towards the Alban Hills, through Albano over the bridge I was told was a popular instrument for suicide (I don’t know why but every time I pass over that bridge with someone new, I am related the exact same information), and into Ariccia’s tavern-filled town center. That was the first time I ever ate porchetta, a deboned (and de-hooved) sow filled with a mixture of salt, pepper, fennel, and its own liver, lungs and heart. The meat is rolled tight around the filling, tied with twine, and roasted. As it cooks, the skin forms a crispy crust that insulates the moisture of the meat while the spices and innards become a flavorful paste within. In Ariccia’s frascette, Porchetta is sliced by hand and served on sheets of paper at long, communal tables piled high with other local specialties like copiette, pecorino romano, olive, and salumi. With all this fatty food, it is fortunate that the local red wine, the slightly sweet and effervescent Romanella, flows freely to cleanse the palate and prepare it for more.