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tv   Stanley Tucci Searching for Italy  CNN  May 7, 2022 10:00pm-11:00pm PDT

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pioneers that changed the face of italy through sheer hard work. this place, for me, is living proof that conviviality can be a vehicle for social change. after all, most revolutions begin around a table. very exciting to be back in rome again. at every turn there's something of historical significance. it's literally like you're living inside a museum. even if you've never been to rome, you've been to rome. its stories have been told and retold on stage and screen. the city of togas and gladiators, power and intrigue,
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empire and ruin. and of course la dolce vita, the good life. i'm stanley tucci, italian on both sides, and i'm traveling across italy to discover how the food in each of this country's 20 regions is as unique as the people and their past. the famous ancients of rome once ruled the world. but i'm here to discover how it's the food of ordinary romans that has conquered our hearts. but i'm going to warn you. if you're on a low-carb diet, beware. you're going to see a lot of pasta in this show. i mean, like, a lot of it. like a lot. i'm sorry. ♪
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♪ i've been visiting rome for decades. its beauty and history still leave me breathless. but sometimes it's difficult to find a good meal if you don't know where to look. rome is situated in lazio, a region sometimes overlooked in favor of its grander gastronomic neighbors like tuscany and umbria. but lazio has fed rome for centuries, and every part of the sheep and pigs raised here is put to use in kitchens across the city to make deeply flavorsome food. to start my journey, i'm catching up with my old friend claudia. she's lived here virtually her whole life. and her cardinal rule for good food is, when in rome, eat as the romans do. >> are you okay? >> i'm good, are you okay?
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i'm sure happy to see you. >> it was a long time. >> it was a long time. somehow almost 30 years has slipped by since we first became friends, when we worked on a movie here together. >> i think that you came last time -- >> the very first time was like '95. >> no, i think '93 because it was -- >> really? i didn't know i was that old. >> i know, me neither. let's not mention it. >> claudia wants to take me for a classic roman pasta lunch. but with an hour to kill, we decide to get a coffee and reminisce. >> san caliste is a real institution. >> but that's where we went a long time ago. >> yeah, yeah. we were there every evening, you know? >> back in the '90s, we used to hang out in a great cafe in trastevre, a grimy part of town very much on the wrong side of the river. >> and here we are. >> and i was pleased to hear it's still going strong.
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>> you remember? >> yes, i do. i do. >> what's there? >> oh my god. >> the picture you gave them in '93. it is exactly in the same place. i think nothing changed in this place. >> no, it hasn't changed. a little espresso would be just enough to whet our appetites before we go to lunch. or so i thought. >> i know, i know. >> what's that? who's joining us ? these are maritotsi, roman breakfast with a 2,000-year-old history. >> you cannot resist one of these. >> in the middle ages, they were one of the few sweet things the church allowed you to eat during lent. it doesn't seem very saintly to
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me. is it like a brioche? >> yeah, and it's even healthier compared to this. this is fried, it's a sort of doughnut with egg cream. >> the italians don't eat breakfast like the americans or british or dutch eat breakfast. >> no. >> because they don't do eggs and bacon and -- it's always something sweet. >> yeah.
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>> si, yeah. grazie. nice to see you again. ciao. as we staggered off our breakfast and headed through triestevre, i noticed that the area was much busier and hipper than years ago. >> this was the poor quarters. you see the buildings as nice as they are, very small. >> right. >> and then, of course, as it happens, you know, the old quarters got very trendy and everybody wanted to live here. >> and they become more gentrified. >> yeah. >> yeah. the city may be changing, but one thing that's as constant as the ancient landmarks is how much people in rome love their pasta. four-star dishes in particular have become an emblem of the city. and claudia is taking me to find out more at a place she says the is pantheon of pasta. the restaurant is fully booked.
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>> but we don't care. >> we don't care. >> ciao. >> tell me some more about pasta in rome. >> pasta in rome is like, you eat it every day. i mean, you don't live without pasta. and everybody has its own recipe, and of course it's the best ever, and yours is nothing compared to mine. >> it's true. it does become very territorial, doesn't it? >> yeah. >> romans revere what they call the four pastas. nice to see you. thank you for having me. simple but iconic dishes of staggering deliciousness. they are creamy pasta made with mainly sheep cheese and pepper.
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an ancient dish which has added pork. its luxurious cousin, carbonara, which is elevated with egg yolks. and finally, our lunch today, amitriciana, made with tomatoes. and this roman favorite, fatty pork cheek. guanchale are a base for a lot of different dishes in rome. we would normally use pancetta, but the taste is totally different. >> pancetta, no, no. >> yes, terrible, yes.
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>> thank you. thank you so much. >> pasta is delicious. delicious. the sauce is actually quite light, which is nice. and really delicate. >> yeah, yeah, it is.
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no, no. i kept a place in my stomach for this. >> oh, because we didn't eat the -- >> my god. >> no. >> across the city, every single day, romans eat pasta that has ancient bonds to their surrounding countryside. now, it's hard to imagine, but this iconic food was once at risk of being banned in italy. lemons. lemons. lemons. lemons. look how nice they are. the moment you become an expedia member, you can instantly start saving on your travels. so you can go and see all those, lovely, lemony, lemons. and never wonder if you got a good deal.
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sitting at the big, warm, carbohydrate-loaded heart of italian cuisine is pasta. and fittingly for the nation's capital, rome is obsessed with this stuff. i've been promised the best carbonara in the city. and i've been told to come to the working-class back streets behind termini station and ask for "the don." tell me what you do. >> i'm passionate for popular food, and for a time, i make a show where i play vinyl music -- >> like a deejay. >> as a deejay, yeah, i am a deejay. but at the same time, i cook pasta as a grandma. >> daniel is a chef, historian, and deejay who cooks italian
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food while he spins records. his stage name is don pasta. >> i have seen some of this stuff. it really is fantastic. it's really great. i was pretending for the audience i didn't know, i lied. it really is great. don pasta has promised me the greatest dish of spaghetti carbonara i've ever tasted. and on the way he tells me why pasta matters so much to him. >> i realize italian food is popular food. root food. italian food is reticent of the normal people or working class people that eat well because the working class people create the roots of italian food. >> yes. today we may think as a bowl of pasta as the ultimate comfort food, but there's a distinctively uncomfortable history of italians fighting oppression through pasta. in the early 1930s, mussolini and his fascists imposed import bans on various foreign goods.
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this led to food shortages, malnutrition, and a lack of wheat, which raised the prospect of italian tables with no pasta. in typical style, rather than lifting the import bans, mussolini tried to convince italians that eating pasta would make them weak, lazy, and even sexually impotent, and that a high-protein diet would make them more productive and war-like. the campaign was clearly not a success. >> when the fascists arrived, a big part of italians was with mussolini, but 30%, 40% is against mussolini. >> in fact, pasta actually became a powerful symbol of the resistance against his fascist regime. armed with their guns and sheets of pasta, many of the partisans who stood up to mussolini lived in these very streets. >> and the great axis railyards from which troops and supplies
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are poured into southern italy are blasted by -- >> during world war ii, this area bore the brunt of allied bombings that aimed to disrupt the nearby rail hub. tragically over 1,000 people were killed. this is in essence like a monument. >> yeah. you can see the effects of the war. people dead, the family dead. and all the area, all this area, is bombed. >> this particular square was home to a hugely popular local trattoria before the war. the owner's wife and all but one of their children died when their building was hit during the bombing. after the war, the local community raised funds for the surviving father and son to reopen the restaurant again. the boy started work here aged just 8. and amazingly, he's still here today. >> it's the story of roman food.
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aldo pomodoro. >> beautiful. aldo now runs the restaurant alongside his daughter rosanna. people come from across the city, and apparently further afield, to enjoy the comfort of aldo's family food. >> so tell me about carbonara. carbonara is a roman dish, but we don't know when it was invented, right? one story i'd always heard is that carbonara came about when the american soldiers in rome during the war started missing their bacon and eggs from back home and wanted them added to spaghetti. aldo, however, has his own theory.
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>> it seems some things are destined to remain roman myths. what everyone can agree on is that the carbonara here is incredible. >> are you ready?
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>> i know, i know. >> you have basically four ingredients -- pasta, eggs, the guanciale, and cheese. that's it. but when i try it at home, it's never this good. >> my mother does that, too. you can just die now. when i taste pasta like this, i understand why it remains so important to the city. rome may be the seat of power and religion, but it's overwhelmingly a working class town. this is simple food that's been elevated over centuries by people making the best of what little they had available. they're rightly proud that their humble food has come to define but then i see uncle charlie's fries.
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♪ i've headed five miles out of the city center using the newly extended metro line. romans have a reputation for resisting change, and the arrival of the subway in 2014 has shaken up old, poor neighborhoods of the city.
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nowhere more so than centocelle. i'm meeting masimiliano, who is the editor of italy's most prestigious food journal, to find out what's going on. gentrification is moving in on this neighborhood, and food is on the front line. >> the neighborhood was born during roman empire. centocelle's roman name, it's 100 jails in english. >> 100 jails? >> jails, yeah, exactly. >> there may never have actually been 100 jails here, but what this area does have is three new subway stations all in close proximity. >> this thing changed the game. a lot of people came here to try to invest a bit. >> yeah. is this where we're going? >> yeah. >> let's go in and see what he's got. >> this area has long had a rough reputation. that's changing fast, though. and one place that's seen by
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some at ground zero for the transformation of the neighborhood is a deli. vincenzo opened this place well before the metro arrived. he wanted to rehabilitate the surrounding lazio region's mediocre reputation for food and bring the best of the countryside back for his neighbors to enjoy at fair prices. >> right, right. can i taste some? >> ah, si! >> pecorino cheese is made from sheep's milk, and rome is famous for it. historically, the animals were
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raised all around lazio as a cheaper alternative to cattle and crops. vincenzo goes a step further than some and searches in some unlikely places for cheese that also helps his community. >> what does that mean? >> in the jail. >> oh, okay. only in italy would an ancient cheese recipe be saved by prisoners. >> really? right. right.
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yeah. that's delicious. as well as sheep's milk cheese, pork finds its way into almost every dish i've had in rome. historically, pigs were raised all around the city because they need less space than other animals. >> to me, vincenzo is doing something amazing. now people come here from around the city to this once-overlooked suburb. but over the past few years, another 50 to 60 food places have opened up nearby. >> romans are renowned for their stubborn resistance to change. i guess it's what's kept this city standing for centuries.
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but masimiliano wants to show me another cafe in the area, one of many that have opened in recent years. i wasn't fully prepared for what we found. >> it's hard to imagine, but a few months ago, this place was a thriving cafe and bookshop called the electric sheep.
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on the night of april 25, 2019, alessandra's cafe was firebombed. she set about rebuilding her business, but shockingly, the night before she was due to reopen, the attackers struck again. >> three local businesses have now been attacked like this here, including a pizza place and this jazz bar. the police still haven't found who's responsible. because alessandra hosted community events at the cafe, including anti-fascist talks, suspicion has fallen on the far right. but others here blame local criminals protecting their old turf or even anti-gentrification campaigners. is this happening in other parts of rome, too? >> no.
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>> when change happens, romans resist. but whoever did this has made it dangerous to sell food. it seems brutal to attack restaurants and cafes in this city that is united in its love of eating together. (manny) yeah, that's what i do. (vo) with 5g ultra wideband in many more cities, you get up to 10 times the speed at no extra cost. verizon is going ultra, so your business can get more. here we go... remember, mom's a kayak denier, so please don't bring it up. bring what up, kayak? excuse me? do the research, todd.
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♪ tucked in a curve of the river tiber is testaccio, once known as the belly of rome. home to the old slaughterhouses that supplied 19th and 20th century romans with meat. so tell me about this place. >> this is the retired slaughterhouse. and for about 100 years until the 1970s it's where most large roman animals were slaughtered. basically from lambs all the way up through steer. >> this four square mile site will be redeveloped into a cultural area, but for now signs of its former life are everywhere. and where is the -- oh, yeah, the tracks for the carcasses, yeah. katey parla is a renowned food writer who swapped new jersey for rome almost 20 years ago. >> you have the veal here -- >> oh. >> skinning happened there.
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it's an organized place with so many pavilions covering a vast area and really influencing the types of foods that would be eaten just across the street at the trattorias of the late 19th and early 20th century. >> in butchery the animal is quartered, and those cuts went straight to the upper and middle class kitchens. everything that's leftover, the blood, brains and intestines was called the quinto quarto, the fifth quarter. and those were left to the poor. some workers were even paid in offal instead of money, so they had little choice but to make the best of it. one restaurant keeping these historic flavors alive and taking them into the 21st century is santo palato. if you know how to cook offal, you can turn the poorest cuts into the richest of dishes. >> we're hungry, right? >> starving.
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i haven't eaten in like an hour. >> and katey wants me to meet sara, a young chef with a growing reputation for doing amazing things with innards. >> she's going to make a fritatta for us, and it's topped with chicken innards. >> so everything we focus on here in the restaurant is offal. >> yes. >> yes, good. one egg per person, okay. >> yes. >> yeah. yeah. throughout the day -- >> oh, yeah. >> have it for breakfast, lunch, dinner. yeah. >> i like it in a sandwich. >> yes, in a sandwich. that's what i used to take when i was a kid to school. >> yes. >> chef sara gave up medical
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school to pursue her dream of opening a restaurant. >> oh, yes. >> the stomach, the heart and the liver. >> in rome, you find pricota and chicken organs, but separately. >> separate. >> but she's combined them. >> yeah. >> it's ready. >> oh, wow. >> smell it. >> oh, yeah. >> don't forget about this bread. >> oh, wow, yeah. nice and hot.
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mm. that's great! >> thank you. >> that is -- great. >> this is really special. and i think it's a really good demonstration of what sara does really well, which is taking roman classic flavors and combining them in a way that's new, but not revolutionary or extra contemporary. they just make sense in the cuisine today. >> sara gets her scalpel into some beef heart, and we take a seat in the dining room. what's that? >> it really is a really unusual texture too, isn't it? all right, so to break down what the offal are, you have heart, liver, lungs, stomach, brain, sweetbreads, intestines. >> snout. >> snout?
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>> cartilagenous things. >> oh, yeah. >> the whole head, really. >> the whole head. >> if you think about it. >> yeah. >> if pasta is the first pillar of roman food, the astonishing use of offal is definitely the second. somehow poor romans turned these unpromising cuts into sheer culinary poetry. >> yes. >> great. >> i love oxtail. >> i'm so into it. so tasty. >> that's really good. >> and this is definitely a more carnivorous city than it is a fish city. >> without question. >> even though we're 15 miles from the sea -- >> i know. >> that was really, really far in pre-1970s standards before ice and refrigeration became more common. >> yeah, yeah. >> so this is that honeycomb tripe with all those really beautiful pockets. >> yeah.
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>> lots of nice stomach geometry going on. >> i've never heard it described as stomach geometry. that makes it sound much, much more palatable. that is really good. >> it's boiled multiple times often with vinegar. that tenderizes and cleans it. then it's cooked with tomato and mint. in rome, this is really the only way you find tripe. go to another place, florence included, and the tripe is prepared differently. >> stewed stomach may not sound appealing, i know, but believe me, these are really tasty flavors. the roman poor didn't have much to work with, but against the odds they wound up making some of the very best food in the city. what can i say? thanks a lot. thank you so much, kate.
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open for "sharing". open for anything. ♪ bonjourno. >> thank you very much. thank you, thank you. we're here in rome, and it's the most wonderful time of the year. no, it's not christmas. it's artichoke season.
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right now, markets across the city are humming with the sound of people hacking away at rome's favorite vegetable. so show me the artichokes. as i've been finding out with roman food, you sometimes have to dig a little to get to the good stuff. so this is where the -- once trimmed, they can be deep fried to make one of my all-time favorite roman foods, jewish fried artichokes. you know, my grandmother and my mother would make these. ask anyone here and they'll tell you this weird-looking vegetable is a definitive roman food. thank you so much. >> thank you, bye-bye. >> ciao, ciao. but what i love is that under those rough outer leaves, it contains an entire history. a story of how society's
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outcasts can change the habits of an entire city. these picturesque ruins once contained the misery of rome's jewish ghetto. from the 1500s onwards, the city's entire jewish community was locked in this walled area. only allowed to leave to do menial jobs in the daytime before being locked in at night. >> italia is in her 80s and has lived here her whole life.
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when the nazis seized rome in october 1943, the ghetto was a sitting target. and its 1,204 residents were sent to the gas chambers. italia was one of just a handful who escaped when her uncle hid her outside the city. for the few who survived, food became a vital link back to their past. the jews of rome had lived in poverty for centuries and were forced to rely on the cheapest of ingredients.
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>> using typical roman inventiveness, the jews transformed unloved ingredients like anchovies, eggplants, and artichokes into dishes that the entire city would eventually take to its heart. alongside pasta and offal, the influence of jewish cooking is the third pillar of roman cuisine today. italia set up a restaurant serving the best jewish food in the ghetto. >> in this kitchen, italia and her crack team raise the humble artichoke into food for the ages.
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>> okay, so this is that that was done yesterday - cooked in the oil and then refrigerated. all right, so he's spreading out the leaves. alright so he's spreading out the leaves. so cooked, pre-cooked >> look at how beautiful that is . >> that's the best one i've had. that is delicious. it's so addictive. it's like eating candy. you just can't stop, it's so
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crispy . >> that people love. yeah. >> this dish tells a story. it has survived the darkest of times and links us to a past that was almost wiped out. to me it's a type of historical monument in italian cooking. it's my last night in rome. during my time here i've learned we'll come to you pay you on the spot then pick up your car that's it at carvana
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a it's my last night in rome. during my time here i've learned that, above all else, food in italy is about who you are and where you're from. but where does that leave you if you're an outsider? i've come to bistro 64 - a restaurant that has won a michelin star for serving up some of the best italian food in the city. the surprising thing is that the chef is an out-of-towner,
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and no he's not from naples or even milan... he's from japan. >> stanley. >> kotaro. nice to meet you. >> pleasure. nice to meet you too. kotaro noda was lured here 20 years ago by his obsession with the flavours of italian cuisine. >> noda's food has won praise for its creativity but tonight he's making the simplest roman classic. it's one of the famous four pastas - cacio e pepe - literally 'cheese and pepper.' >> there are just three main ingredients but it takes great skill to make this roman favourite perfect.
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>> of course, another italian kitchen secret . >> could take a while. i know you may be thinking this is ludicrously simple food but
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believe me, it's extraordinary and don't just take my word for it. where's karen? karen? come here. >> right. >> ok. >> ok. ok. >> this is karen who works with us - one of the producers. she's from rome. so you tell us what you think, karen. >> ok. ok. no pressure. >> no. no pressure, no pressure. he's not nervous at all. >> noda: i'm not nervous. >> tucci: he doesn't care about our opinion. >> noda: va bene? >> it's divine. yes, it's so good. it's perfectly creamy. it's not too intense, it's not overloaded with flavour. >> yeah. >> it's the perfect amount of pepper. >> yeah. and it really respects, you know, how it would be cooked in a family. there's always a secret.
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>> there's always a secret, that's true. there's always a secret. when it comes to food, romans know what they like and like what they know. beyond his masterful take on the classics noda's menu is full of incredible innovations - from sweetbreads with heart to purple potato cream with plum gelato. i was curious how the city had taken to his creations. >> the downside of rome being so steeped in history is that sometimes great things are resisted because they're new and not what people are used to. missing food this good is a real shame.
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i'm sorry. but here's the thing - the one thing romans can't resist is a good meal and i'm hopeful that soon noda's food will be another culinary landmark in this eternal city. so we're coming down through calabria, on a train obviously. we're going to sicily, the biggest island in the mediterranean. because there is no bridge, they take the train and put it onto a ferry. oh, we're getting on it! oh that's exciting. and you can see the tracks here, where the other cars will go. i love trains, but i like the


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