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Tourists from all over the world are often tired of the usual things to see. Personally I have been able to show to some friends Rome with the intention of let them know the wonders of the eternal city: the Colosseum, the Imperial Forum, Vatican Museums, Navona square, Trastevere, Piazza di Spagna square and much more.
At the end of the day my friends were happy with the tour but I did not feel enthusiastic. I thought that the tiredness prevented him from expressing their sincere enthusiasm for the tour that I considered beautiful.
The next day, however, I decided to go with them on a different tour, away from the paths beaten by mass tourism. A few steps from my house, in the roman countryside.
In the countryside, I know several people who do very interesting activities and I would like them to know about it. From this day an extraordinary idea was born: the the Roman Countryside Culinary Tour. And now I’ll tell you how it went.
The first stop was the farm of a dear friend who is a shepherd by profession. His name is Luigi and he has about 80 sheep, from which he obtains milk and cheese that he sells.
We were lucky because it was the day of cheese making, so we could watch the whole process. Or better … we even participated.
As soon as we arrived, Luigi was milking the sheep and came to us apologizing for his “unordered” appearance. Without due presentation, we stopped a bit in the barn while he continued to milk the sheep, chatting.
Then we moved to his laboratory where he turned milk into cheese. A large pot with about 50 liters of milk inside was already boiling, while a boy turned it with a wooden stick.
Meanwhile, Luigi’s wife, Mrs. Francesca, brought us a good warm espresso, delicious pie with homemade jam, and other homemade cakes and cookies.
After the breakfast, we wanted to participate and asked Luigi if we could try making cheese. Luigi looked at us in a funny way, then took the aprons he kept in a closet and invited us to take the place of the boy to “turn” the milk that in the meantime was increasingly thickening.
At the right point he puts his hands in thickened milk and extracted a soft pastethat he placed on a wooden board, the classic table where in Italy housewives prepare handmade pasta.
At that point he started to manipulate this paste and told us to do the same thing. Then we put this soft dough in the typical “cheese molds”, to give it its classic circular shape.
Now there was to wait a few hours before the fresh cheese was ready but my intention was to bring my friends to a farm nearby to show them this place that I like so much.
So we left, not before having tasted a few slices of cheese enriched with a jam or a few drops of honey. Luigi wanted also to offer us some wine (!!!) but due to the time (about 11 am), we opted for a good glass of fresh water.
Naturally we did not leave without take a form of cheese to eat at home, that the good Luigi wanted to give us as a gift.
We are so directed to a farm nearby. The owner was already waiting for us because I had warned him. I asked him if he was willing to show my friends how to make homemade pasta, our fettuccine.
Francesca (yes, this is her name, like Luigi’s wife and like me, but do not think that in Italy all the women are called Francesca), she welcomed us with a beautiful smile and after the presentations she led us into the kitchen where she had equipped everything for the preparation of homemade pasta.
Specifically there were any wooden boards (here is called “spianatora” because it serves to “pave” the dough before cutting it and make it become fettuccine), with lots of flour, eggs, water and “rolling pin”.
Before starting she offered us delicious homemade desserts (yes, in Italy we use to eat always) and the usual coffee (and here too … we use to take a liter of it every day).
Then he showed us how to make pasta, inviting us to imitate its movements.
First the flour is poured on the table to form a small mountain. Then, with your hands, you have to widen it by making a large hole in the middle where you have to pour some water and eggs. Depending on the quantity of flour you must put a certain number of eggs, while the water must be enough to mix everything. I can not explain the precise quantity of water and eggs, I could do it again, feeling the consistency of the dough under the hand but I can not give precise instructions.
Francesca instead gave us the right instructions, she is very good.
So we mixed everything to form a kind of ball of dough that we then let stand a few minutes.
Later, we “smoothed out” or made into a thin sheet with a rolling pin, taking a piece of dough at a time from the ball. Since rolling out the dough with a rolling pin is really tiring, Francesca has provided us with a pasta machine. It is a steel tool that attaches to the table, equipped with two rollers. Insert a little dough into the rolls that are activated with a hand crank. We have thus formed a series of strips of pastry.
We then wrapped these sheets on themselves and cut into many strips, forming the Roman fettuccine.
At the end of the cooking class, Francesca invited us to have lunch there with our homemade fettuccine and other good things.
In the evening my friends were still hyper-active and did nothing but talk about the wonderful day they had just passed. A nice difference with the previous day. The wonders of Rome did not trigger the same enthusiasm.
By saying goodbye, when they left, they thanked me telling me that they had never had such a fun holiday and that this experience would remain in their hearts for a lifetime. What to say? This is how the Roman Countryside Culinary Tour was born.
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