As you may have noticed, there is no such thing as the Italian cuisine. There are so many regional differences that, although you could take Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well by Pelegrino Artusi as a guide book to Italian cuisine, you would soon realise that his is mainly a collection of Emilian, Romagnan and Tuscan recipes.
The variety is also noticeable with dishes that share the same name, but in different place are completely different. One of those is the pasta alla carrettiera. A Sicilian will tell you it’s originally from Catania and that you need bread crumbs and cheese, while a Roman will proudly claim it is an original Roman dish with tuna and mushrooms… Most versions share garlic, peperoncino chilis, and tomatoes, but I’ve seen one without any of those in Genoa.
Back in the old days, when the equivalent of our motorways were main roads between cities, lorry drivers were horse and waggon drivers and the Autogrill was a decent, independent inn, they must have decided that a simple pasta on the menu should be called after most of the customers, the carrettieri (waggon drivers), leaving us with an abundance of different plates sharing the same name!
Let me introduce you to the Florentine version of Spaghetti alla Carrettiera, which is by far my favourite pasta dish in the whole wide world!
- some olive oil
- 2 cloves of garlic
- peperoncini chilis
- 400g peeled tomatoes
First we will prepare the tomatoes (unless we buy them canned; make sure you buy a good can though) by bringing a pan of water to the boil, plunging in the tomatoes for about half a minute and then letting them sit in an ice both for several minutes. You will now easily remove the skin. Cut them into small pieces. Cut the garlic and the chili(s) into tiny flakes or chunks. Heat some olive oil in a pan, add garlic, vinegar and a pinch of salt and sauté for a few minutes without burning the garlic. Add the peeled tomatoes and start cooking the spaghetti. Chop the parsley finely. When the spaghetti are done, drain them and add them to the pan with the sauce and add the parsley. Mix well, serve and enjoy!