Sunday, January 10, 2010


Early in my stay in Rome, I witnessed another bit of Rachel's culinary genius in the form of her Penne a la Vodka. Between the quality local ingredients and her home style technique, the sauce was quite possibly the best I've had on pasta. The fresh basil and rosemary growing in little pots on the kitchen's window sill provided the garnish alongside a dish of small, crumbly reddish brown cubes, their grease soaking the hell out of the paper towel sheet beneath them. This, pancetta, would be my first bacon adventure.

I interpreted the pancetta accompanying Rachel's Penne a la Vodka as a salt substitute, as it simply furthered the savory element in the sauce. It seemed to be a dispensable component of the dish, and I found the texture of the pasta to be equally pleasant without the slightly burnt, crunchy mouth feel of the pancetta cubes. While delicious, it was not the ambrosial substance of its myth.

Psychologically, I initially balked at the idea of this cut, in many ways the ambassador of pork the world over. Through my days of restriction, nearly every pork eating person with whom the topic came up mentioned bacon as a favorite. This always managed to surprise me, as I always thought other forms of pork looked so much tastier than these greasy, wavy, fat infused strips. Nevertheless, bacon has hype behind it. While pancetta in pasta sauce was really tasty, I attributed the bulk of the talent to the sauce. I decided to wait patiently for the magic of bacon to reveal itself to me in later dishes.

1 comment:

  1. I can definitely see how the appeal of bacon is far-fetched on the first try-- especially if you see it being cooked (the amount of grease is off-putting for sure). Try a BLT sandwich to get the full bacon taste. Looking forward to more posts!