Rome, the cradle of Western European culture: almost 2000 years of history, capital of one of the greatest empires ever known, centre of one the most followed religious cults, crowdy, noisy, laid back (almost lazy) and sweaty as it can be. As the Romans like to say : “If the world is tumbling down, I will just step back and go the opposite way”. From the post-war times of La Dolce Vita to the last Woody Allen’s movie picture, The Eternal City always attracted the foreigners with its charm, romance and again laid back lifestyle and made them dream about how lovely would be having the Pope in your neighbourhood 😛
I don’t know how many British people actually made the move following the steps of Keats and Shelley but I can tell that at Bar del Fico, where yesterday I met the mysterious protagonists of this post, English is everything but a second language. In the beautiful atmosphere of Piazza del Fico, minutes from Piazza Navona, at the aperitivo hour, when old Romans play chess and waiters and chefs sit on the side of the streets waiting for the night service to start, i met George and Fleur.
George and Fleur made the move from Brixton, London, to Rome almost a year ago with their little son Luca, who will start the Italian nursery in September and just learnt how to it feels to be on his own feet, messing around and playing with the other customers. They both have lovely day jobs and they are planning to stay in Italy for a while: dream would be opening a small shop one day, not necessarily in the Capital. I was really interested in meeting them: who better than two Londoners can tell about Roman food and Rome after a year? Expectations, illusions, legends and truths. But why I chose George and Fleur?
The answer is that they started in Rome something that was vey strong in Brixton and, generally in London, when they left. In fact, they opened a supperclub, the Roman Supperclub offering different kinds of international food to strangers, be them tourists or natives :O.
When I bumped onto their blog I was like: a supperclub? In Rome? Really? Are you sure guys?
I never thought it was possible. So i had to find out myself what was the feedback from the guests and the hosts to this new dining experience. Is really Roman food culture changing so much? My mum visited and loved the Backdoor kitchen when in London, but I thought Italians were not that ready to something implying strangers who gather up in a stranger’s house to share food and stories. It is a bit extreme for an Italian, too much food and Mamma’s cuisine background going on. They just don’t trust the different.
That is what George and Fleur told me (audio is not that great but as I said Rome is bloody noisy and even if you kindly ask people around you to a be a tiny bit less loud they clearly don’t get you. Furthermore I’m not armed with Fabio’s video skills which makes a big difference I guess).
Why did you move to Rome from London? (aka Are you insane?)
As an Italian, and a Roman, living in London is pretty difficult to me think of Londoners willing to move to my city, knowing the huge differences, the disorganisation and the Italian way of being involved in everybody’s lives. Despite George and Fleur had to face the lack of the customer service concept in easy things such us activating an home broadband internet connection or have been often told off in the streets by total strangers for the English way they educate Luca with (too wild and uncivilised for an Italian mum or dad), they made their good points
Why did you decide to open a supperclub in Rome?
Who is the Roman supperclub average guest?
It comes out that tourists are much more willing to try this kind of experience rather than locals. George and Fleur told me that some young Romans showed up at some of their nights…step by step, i suppose. What i loved about this answer is that they’re not trying to give Romans Roman food: it just doesn’t work! Too proud of their cuisine, they’ll never admit a couple just landed from the UK might do better than Nonna does. They are working little by little, bringing the London culture of tasting different styles of cuisine with their supperclub. I think that as London supperclubs bring their national food culture for people to try so two Londoners in Rome bring their open minded culture inside the Italian monolith.
What is changing in Roman food culture?
The young Romans are much more willing to try even if Roman food is still very strong. This seems to be good but on Sunday i was in my hometown and it doesn’t feel like we are embracing different cultures without losing important bits on the way.
What is the big problem with Roman cuisine?
At the end of the previous clip George says that Roman food ” is still very strong, very strong indeed”. Is it a polite way to say that our national and regional food culture is so much strong until the point of turning stubborn and not willing to try? And at the same time, why are we giving up on our traditions? Dangerous combo, ignorance and stubbornness when it comes at food. There is something wrong with our food culture, i know, and i want to find out.
Is it just that? Roman cuisine is just not that fashionable and easy to sell, so we rely on tourist’s trap all over the centre of Rome? Tourist’s traps which are eventually becoming local’s traps as they are losing contact with some kind of food tradition more and more.
I wanna know more and get more opinions about this.
It’s funny that we are trying to introduce authentic hearty Italian and Roman food in London, when back home they don’t seem to care much about it.
I will meet George and Fleur in the Castelli Romani area on Sunday. More questions for them!
If you wanna visit their supperclub go here, if you wanna book for our next supperclub click the obvious link below. Tonight it is Ferragosto’s eve in Rome, i will enjoy myself on the beach, but more news and courses dor our incomplete menu from the seaside nearby Rome are coming in the next days.
and follow us Follow @BackDoorKitchen