In our fifth episode we’ll visit Rome, the Eternal City whose cuisine makes the most of ingredients that in Australia are not even allowed.
Pajata is a word from the Roman dialect that refers to a specific part of the intestines of an unweaned calf, the one the contains the partially undigested milk the animal has been fed on.
To preserve pajata’s flavour, it’s essential that the calf hasn’t eaten anything other than its mother’s milk. One blade of grass and the whole experience will be spoiled.
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- Animals have a “fifth quarter” and Roman cuisine identifies with it.
- It’s only in the last few years that pajata is again legal in Italy.
- Unless you know a farmer, it will be almost impossible to recreate pajata in Australia.
Anastasia Zolotarev, a Masterchef Australia 2016 contestant who continues her career in the food industry in many different roles, has fond memories of the day in Rome she stumbled upon pajata. It was served, as per tradition, with a tomato sauce on rigatoni pasta.
As an adventurous eater, Anastasia didn’t miss the opportunity to savour a dish from a time when the poorest people had to do a lot with the parts of animals other people were scrapping, thus creating the identity of the Eternal City’s cuisine.
In Rome they have a unique palate, a unique history. It’s incredible to learn from all cultures the reason why they use specific ingredients. It might come from a necessity, like with this dish, rigatoni con la pajata.
Listen to the fifth episode of The Ugly Ducklings of Italian Cuisine.
Scarrafoni in Cucina: The Ugly Ducklings of Italian Cuisine is SBS' first bilingual podcast in English and another language. Listen now in Italian.