While some regions of Italy are influenced by what is available locally and the financial situation of the area in times gone by, Lazio’s food is influenced by many international influences. This is because this region is home to the county’s capital. During the times when Rome was the head of the Roman Empire, it is where people would return when they had visited a country within this empire bringing with them new ingredients and ideas for cooking methods and dishes to create. However, that is not to say that the cuisine of Lazio does not make the most of the local ingredients as these are widely used in some delicious dishes.
One of the most common dishes made in homes in Lazio is broths and each family has their own favorite recipe for these. People use cheap cuts of meat or locally caught seafood and fresh local vegetables in various quantities to make these hearty, thick soups.
Historically, the type of meat eaten in Lazio depended on your financial situation and social standing. The rich ate the best cuts and plenty of beef and veal. Saltimbocca alla Romano is a typical example of a dish enjoyed by the wealthy. This is veal sautéed in white wine, garlic, prosciutto, and sage. On the other hand, the poorest people had to make do with off cuts and offal. For example, oxtail stew or braised lamb’s liver with artichokes. Lamb is still eaten by all classes throughout the year and is the traditional meat served at Easter in Lazio.
There are two ports in Lazio and these keep the region well supplied with fresh fish and seafood. Salted, cured cod is a particular specialty of the area. Baccala in guazetto is a dish that combines salt cod with pignolas, tomatoes, onions and olive oil. Another typical seafood dish of this area is cozze alla marinara which is mussels steamed and served with tomatoes, garlic, and parsley. On special occasions, people in Lazio serve sea bass, lobster, oysters and giant shrimp.
There are several famous pasta dishes that originate in this area. The first of these is spaghetti alla carbonara. Bacon made from pork cheeks is sautéed in chillies and garlic before adding to raw scrambled egg. This is stirred over hot spaghetti and extra flavor is added with grated Pecorino. Penne all’arabiatta is another famous pasta dish from this region. The tomato sauce of this dish is seasoned with garlic and spicy chili peppers.