I find myself on Roman ground. In an Osteria.
A man who might be the owner sits close. Sipping a golden vino bianco, he props his foot up on the lady’s seat next. They kiss. Finding it with ease, with a golden passion, like the wine, like the evening.
Stepping inside, he brings the dish out with all the ceremony of a casual stroll, the evening breeze pushing him along. Tears form in my tongue. Am I emotional? A celebratory confetti sits atop, grated.
I gaze awhile at the dish.
Here are, a handful of ingredients strung together in symphony:
The pork cheek is crisp as bacon, it’s fat coating the spaghetti. The hot pasta coaxes egg and cheese into a luxurious creamy sauce. Salt and a generous turn of the pepper mill stand each flavour up a little taller. And of course olive oil to begin and a drizzle to finish.
Perfection on a plate.
Rich, heavenly, and above all, simple. I take a bite, my teeth sink into something, and find themselves intruding some sanctuary of chorus caught mid-song. Flavour rolls over each little ridge of the tongue, on unending chorus. It is glorious. It is divine. It is —
I glance back up. The owner has sat back down, giving his lover a light for a smoke.
I glance back down, back to my bowl of joy and wonder.
I am in Italy.
This was my first meal in Italy. Hours after landing in Rome at a rustic little Osteria (Hostaria Mimi e Cocozza), I tasted the beginning of a delicious culinary trail. It was really yummy.