Fr. Z’s Kitchen: “Happy Birthday Rome!” Edition

My Vatican Curia calendar confirmed this morning …


… that today is the Birthday of Rome…


… the 2765th Birthday.

This august anniversary called for a Roman supper.

In consultation with the great Roman Fabrizio I decided to make Bucatini alla gricia.  Gricia is the pre-Columbian option for pasta, the forerunner of it’s variant prepared all’amatriciana (with tomato).  There was a time before Italians had the tomato, which were brought from the New World.

Here is the mighty and slightly unwieldy bucatino.


The bucatino is in the middle flanked by a toothpick, a spaghetto, a chopstick, and a pencil.

Bucatini are thicker than spaghetti, obviously, and they have a small hole through their center.


I didn’t originally think I was posting on this so I didn’t think to take of pic of the guanciale until it was in the pan.  Guanciale is type of “bacon”, roughly speaking, but from the cheek of the pig.  I had some guanciale in my freezer, sent by one of you kind readers from my wishlist (where it occasionally makes an appearance – thanks FZ!).


This is simplicity.  Cut the guanciale into small chunks and in a frying pan over medium heat start browning gently.  The fat will become translucent and start to melt.  You want the fat, because it constitutes the “sauce”.

Add a bit of the water from the pot in which you are cooking your bucatini (also sent by a reader, btw).  This will deglaze and create a little “sauce” as the fat emulsifies.


Add your bucatini directly into the pan and stir it around.



Plate with a very generous addition of grated pecorino cheese.

I added the single chive to annoy liberals.



For dessert, I enjoyed the perfect combination of a banana with little smears of Nutella.

Happy Birthday Rome!


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Fr. Z's Kitchen, Lighter fare and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Phillip says:

    Only little smears of Nutella? I admire your self-restraint, Father. I went out for lunch today at a pretty nice Italian place. Dessert was a Nutella tart, still warm from the oven, with house-made vanilla gelato. And bucatini alla gricia is never unwelcome. I’ve been known to make it with good smoked bacon and eat it for breakfast.

  2. NoraLee9 says:

    In “A Farewell to Arms,” Hemingway’s protagonist and comrades are sitting in a trench eating pasta, olive oil and grated Romano cheese. My daughter and I often feast on this when we are too tired to cook anything else. We call it Ernest Hemingway Pasta. If I am ambitious, I throw in a couple of black olives.

    I am going to check out this recipe, because it appears it is cut from the same cloth…

  3. off2 says:

    Happy Birthday Roma!

    Happy Birthday to The Queen! (ER II)

  4. I usually brown the guanciale (or pancetta) with a chopped onion and deglaze with a half glass of red (terra dei volsci works very nicely, as one might imagine) or a shot of stravecchio. I also like to add black pepper with about 25/30 seconds to go in the deglazing, before adding the (cooked to a little more stiff than the classic “al dente”) pasta (along with a little water) .

  5. jmhj5 says:

    Father, do you make your own pasta? [Not very often.]

  6. Tom in NY says:


    Salutationes omnibus.

  7. Joe in Canada says:

    I need to know – how does the deal with the chives work? Do they need to be scattered about like garlic, or is one piece anywhere in the room enough? Etc

  8. Liz says:

    I love it when you are cooking. It seems like all is right with the world now!

  9. mike cliffson says:

    liked the recipe, but please enlighten me:
    Love chives: m’parents used to have a tuft/tussock of chives in the back garden until the could no longer garden and a tame paid gardener thought it a weed.
    And – God forgive me – I feel that annoying liberals is ipso facto an honorable, enjoyable, and worthy persuit….
    But how should the use of chives achieve this laudable aim?

  10. TopSully says:

    Thanks for asking Mike, I was wondering the same thing.

  11. Supertradmum says:

    I believed you were a gourmet until you mentioned Nutella. Horrid stuff, I was taking away from the students eating it between classes out of the jar.

    Chives are ok with me. Have a great meal.

  12. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Nothing with chocolate in it is bad. However, hazelnuts are a symbol of wisdom, so it’s eminently sensible for students to eat chocolate hazelnut butter!

  13. Supertradmum says:

    Suburbanbanshee, have you tasted the stuff? And the texture is like, another icky thing, peanut butter, only harder. Yuck.

  14. AnAmericanMother says:

    In the South, with our prevalent high humidity and warm temperatures, Nutella achieves a syrupy consistency, like a thick chocolate syrup.
    I’m all for anything with hazelnuts in it, ditto chocolate. But the caloric consequences are just too dire, given that I don’t like it all THAT much.

  15. PostCatholic says:

    This was inspiring. I’ll have to hunt down guanciale, I imagine it’s quite a different flavor from ordinary bacon. Once, in Rome, I had a memorable dish of bucatini, fresh anchovy and watercress, topped by a soft-poached egg.

  16. Granny says:

    Bacon and pasta, two perfect foods! Add some garlic and I’ve been cooking this meal once a month for 42 years. Only difference for us is that we use any pasta we have on hand with farfalle coming in at first place and usually parm. reggiano instead of peccorino.

  17. PostCatholic says:

    Oh, and again, what’s annoying about a chive? I thought we liberals liked to experiment with tradition and alter the classics.

  18. Kathleen10 says:

    I think I live wrong. You all have the right idea and I’ll learn.

    Buon appetito! I would eat pasta and rocks.

  19. Trad Catholic Girl says:

    I would have to agree that Nutella is awful tasting. As for the spaghetti, I just tried to make it but it was a flop. I think I’ll grab the remaining noodles and head out of town.

  20. irishgirl says:

    Happy [belated] Birthday to the City of Rome!
    And ditto to Her Majesty the Queen of England!
    Pasta looks yummy, Father Z….do ‘pig cheeks’ taste like bacon?

  21. Pingback: Ordinary Goodness: No Lettuce Salad | Quicksilver to Gold

Comments are closed.