The Porchetta Queen

“When you went to Frascati, you had the porchetta, right?” my husband asked me one night when we were planning our honeymoon in Italy.

I thought back to a day spent in Frascati, a quiet and charming town a short train ride away from Rome. I remembered arriving a little too late for lunch and finding many restaurants closed. I remembered going for a walk through a beautiful park after I smiled my way into a plate of pasta at a tiny restaurant. But porchetta, I did not remember porchetta.

To Peter, this was unacceptable. After our three-week honeymoon throughout southern Italy we were flying out of Rome, and so, for our final night, we would return to Frascati for the porchetta that had been right under my nose and yet I hadn’t managed to find.

I am traveler that can always find a bit of room in my stomach for something special. Yet after three weeks in Italy — fresh globes of burrata, heaping plates of pasta, irresistible pizza — I was just about at my limit. I wasn’t hungry anymore. My go-to breakfast for the second half of our trip was a cappuccino.

20150618_16154920150618_210636But we had come to Frascati for the porchetta, and after attempting to walk up a bit of an appetite, we entered a cobblestoned piazza that I had never seen before. Small bistro tables were set outside of glowing shops and young couples sat on benches beneath mature trees. I was expecting one porchetta shop, thinking that they would have the roasted pork market cornered, but I was surprised to find multiple options. Some were brick-and-mortar shops, with their meat on display in a glass case. A woman stood nearby holding a long, sharp knife, ready to slice. There was also a freestanding hut, with the sign “La Regina Della Porchetta” — the Queen of Porchetta. People were waiting in line for porchetta stuffed into sandwiches and cold beers.

For the final evening of our honeymoon, we sat outside after dark with a makeshift picnic. Inside one of the porchetta shops, we assembled our meal — a couple hunks of cheese (one hard, one soft, the owner insisted), fresh bread, a plate with slices of porchetta falling off the edge, and some grilled vegetables. With a bottle of red wine, this whole meal was 18 euros.

We picked a table with a good view of the piazza and watched the town stroll by. Some of the tender porchetta I popped right in my mouth; other slices I piled on to a piece of bread with a nub of cheese, a bit of roasted red pepper, and some crispy skin. We grazed until our bellies were full. Red wine in a plastic cup never tasted so good.

 

 

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