530: Cacio e Pepe with Kristina Gill
I'm Molly And I'm Matthew and this is spilled milk the show where we cook something delicious eat it all and and sometimes record in our closets
Matthew Amster-Burton 0:12
today we are talking about Cacioppo a puppet Did I say it right?
I think I mean you said it like as well or better than I do so I think we're both doing it badly but
Matthew Amster-Burton 0:23
I think I think I like separated the words much more than they would be separated in Italian
maybe got Joy Pepe Yeah,
Matthew Amster-Burton 0:30
I think that's probably yelled at all of
my like various repertoire of characters that I can do for my family all at a certain point become Italian.
Matthew Amster-Burton 0:40
Sure. Yeah, can you do it can you do like Jack Nicholson but Italian?
Well, not on purpose. He just becomes Italian. Anyway, okay. So yeah, today we are talking about Cacho, a pip a and wishes start by defining this by defining it I mean, I think our listeners know what this is this dish is very trendy slash was recently very trendy and when does something stop being trendy? And does someone come along like ring a bell and say like, here lies cat toy Peppa?
Matthew Amster-Burton 1:11
very trendy Armani. Yeah, maybe bury some pasta?
There's there's a spaghetti tree there. Yeah. For
Matthew Amster-Burton 1:19
sure. Yeah, like, you know, just in the Italian tradition. There's a there's a bagpipe player?
Yep. Anyway, so Okay, so this is a pasta dish. It is typically Roman. It has been made in Rome in the area of Rome actually, for not as long as you might think. And we'll get to that in a second.
Matthew Amster-Burton 1:37
Oh, so you can see like spaghetti 2013
It consists of so the the pasta you use is either spaghetti or taralli Being a long noodle, but that is square in cross section rather than circular. Two
Matthew Amster-Burton 1:54
questions. Number one, what is spaghetti number two is taralli different from spaghetti alla Kitara
Oh my gosh. Okay, if you're in the Wikipedia entry for Catuai Pepe, and you click on Tonner rally, it takes you to the keep Tada. Oh,
Matthew Amster-Burton 2:10
I feel so smart. Okay, anyway, no, I didn't do that. This is right. All right off the dome here.
Anyway, so yeah, it's one of those two long, skinny noodles. And it is sauced. I'm making air quotes here with grated Pecorino Romano and black pepper and a bit of pasta cooking water.
Matthew Amster-Burton 2:28
Yeah, this is like of all the Roman pastas. And we should we should talk about because like, I love these Roman pastas. And we should put it into context with the other ones. Like, all of them kind of seem like this is like too minimal to be even considered a sauce. But it's so good.
Yes. And it was really helpful to me, actually. Well, so we should say we're going to have a guest here. Oh, yes. We are going to have Kristina Gill, who is a co author and the photographer of the book tasting room. Yeah, she is a native of Nashville, Tennessee, but lives in Rome and has lived there for quite some time now. Anyway, I learned a lot by looking at that book because I have made I think three different recipes of cat toy Pepe over the years. And they have been vastly different. It just didn't work. They were all very very similar. But what I learned actually different but very similar, very similar in terms of the ingredients. And you know what I mean? What I learned from Christina's book is that it is a very typical thing for Callaway Pepe to vary in terms of dryness or like sauciness depending on making it and how they make it.
Matthew Amster-Burton 3:39
How about in terms of well, but we'll get to clumpiness and how to avoid clumps. Okay. Okay. So we go down memory lane. Oh, so
I also want to say just for anybody who who doesn't know Catuai Pepe basically means cheese and black pepper.
Matthew Amster-Burton 3:53
Yeah, it's a very black pepper forward dish usually is right it is
and it's very salty too. Because Pecorino Romano is a, like a hard, salty sheep's milk cheese.
Matthew Amster-Burton 4:05
Yeah, no, I had all the cheese for my recipe, like sitting in a pretty big bowl on the counter. And I was like, I am so excited that I got to put all of this cheese in
a Yeah, it's impressive, right? It's so much cheese. Yeah, let's go down memory lane.
Matthew Amster-Burton 4:17
Let's do it. You first I don't really have much experience with this dish. Like, you know, I've had it here and there. Like you've made it for me. And it was delicious. I think I don't think when I made it, Jay it was the first time but it was maybe the second or third time. I just it just doesn't come to mind for some reason. I think it's because like, in my mind, it seems too simple to be good. But of course it's great. So my mind doesn't work. Great.
Just to make our listeners jealous. I should remind everyone that I made this for your birthday. Yeah. When a 21
Matthew Amster-Burton 4:56
day feast when we were on a corporate retreat together. Yes. So it was Cacio e Pepe, there was ice cream with homemade hot fudge. Yes. And there was an erotic thriller. There was an erotic thriller that was that was the spiciest ingredient of all Mm hmm. Yeah. I love that movie. I don't remember what it was. It was the color of night. It was the stupidest movie we've ever watched. And I loved every moment of it.
That was the one with the group, the group therapy group.
Matthew Amster-Burton 5:24
I love like real
giant baseball mitt chair, right. Okay. All right, but it's time for my memory lane. Okay, so I think the first time I ever heard of this pasta was in Gourmet magazine. That makes sense. Like around the time I moved to Seattle, so I looked it up. And the recipe was that I I made for the first time was from 2003. And it was in one of those like, I think like short order cook sections. Do you remember that? Like your 30 Minute Meals or whatever. Anyway, I made a
Matthew Amster-Burton 5:58
very like big grudging, right? Like, we're Gourmet magazine, but fine.
But fine, we'll give you something easy to make. So I made it for the first time using the gourmet recipe, which I'll talk more about in a minute. And I loved it. And I blogged about it in like the first year of blogging, I looked it up. It was October 2005 the first year of blogging, and the post is horrifying, which means everybody's now going to go look it up. Yeah, I just want everybody to know that. I know. It's horrifying. It's just it's really cute. Anyway to read this. So in the tie I'll talk more about other recipes I've tried but what I make now I make all the time and it is the recipe from the book repertoire by Jessica bat Ilana and we make it so often in this household that for time Jun referred to it as like Lodi mac and cheese. Yeah. Anyway, I would say I make it like at least twice a month at this point. But I was thinking when I was doing this agenda that I really have only eaten it once, maybe twice in restaurants. Okay, I feel like this pasta dish is so much about like a fine balance of ingredients. And like the speed at which you mix them and the heat at which you mix them that I think it'd be very easy for a restaurant to butcher this stuff.
Matthew Amster-Burton 7:29
I think so too. On the other hand, I feel like compared to making it at home, I could see a restaurant being using like absolute vast amounts of olive oil and or butter that I might hesitate to use at home. Not because I'm trying to be abstemious or anything, but just because like it feels like it might be like a wrong amount.
Well, I think most of the time the amount of oil or butter that restaurants use is that amount that home cooks would think is ludicrous. Yeah, exactly. And yet it's what it often takes to create the texture and flavor and all that stuff that we love. I think one place where I have actually eaten this and I want to talk to Kristina about it is a restaurant in in Rome. That has been around I think since 1911 was called when my grandfather was born really yeah it's this your your your good grandfather or your bad grades a
Matthew Amster-Burton 8:22
Oh, good. I died much less about Yeah, then then the bad one,
Matthew Amster-Burton 8:26
you know, the bad one hung around much longer being mean?
Oh, cuz he was fueled by pure rage badness. Yeah. Anyway, so the restaurant is called Trattoria parry Li, p e r i l l i Okay. And I went there so Matthew, do you remember like when we were the kind of food writers who would get invited on press trips?
Matthew Amster-Burton 8:50
Yeah, I don't think I ever like the most the closest thing to a press trip I ever went on I think was to Idaho. Idaho Oh, I went to I went to this amazing Trattoria like it was next to a fountain No, I went to I was like, hired by like a resort chain to write about their new resorts. And I mean, it was really fun. Like, I got to stay like in a bungalow at the resort and I got to like, drive around with the chef and eat stuff.
That's amazing. Yeah, I think the only press trip that I ever went on was like this most epic of epic press trips, which was it was sponsored by like the Naples, Italy Chamber of Commerce. Yeah. And I think I wound up on this press trip because of Francis lamb who at that time, you know, now he's what like the like the editor in chief of Clarkson Potter or something. And,
Matthew Amster-Burton 9:43
and host of the split. Most of the splendid toast of the town is what he is
the he has the toast of the town anyway, but at that time, he was just a lowly writer for Gourmet magazine. Well, I
Matthew Amster-Burton 9:53
mean, like he was like, holy,
I know I'm teasing. I mean, we all wanted to be writers for Gourmet magazine. You know how to do more like lowly worm? No, you and Francis actually succeeded in that
Matthew Amster-Burton 10:05
being writer. Yeah, that's true. And one of us went on to great success after
you did sorry, Francis. Anyway, but I had just met Francis. And he like knew these people who were organizing this press trip in Italy and he put my name in the hat. So I wound up traveling to Italy with Francis and his friend who is now my friend Winnie Yang. We met up in Rome together before we joined up with this press trip. And like when he knew all of these people, because we were food writers at the time, who knew people and we stayed in this apartment together in Rome and we went to pity Lee and had what Padilla is known for is its carbonara
Matthew Amster-Burton 10:46
was one of the Roman houses I was thinking about it is like this super
it's like a white tablecloth place where the waiters are in bow ties nice, but it feels very it is like not slick or fancy in any way. Other than like those two details. Sure. It feels very like neighborhood Rome. Anyway,
Matthew Amster-Burton 11:08
you put it to the menu and I was like drooling over the menu before you got here. We'll include a link in the in the show notes in your podcast player, but like this is like if you think like Roman restaurant menu, it is this?
Yes. Anyway, so that I think is the only place I've ever ordered Cacio e Pepe in a restaurant because especially in the US I just I feel like it would come out looking like Fettuccine Alfredo.
Matthew Amster-Burton 11:34
Yeah, I know what you mean. So if you're if you're making this like a couple times a month and it's like part of your regular rotation Do you have like big blocks of hard cheeses in your fridge?
So I make sure that I always have enough Pecorino Romano to make this and enough Chrono and I keep them together in
Matthew Amster-Burton 11:54
a tupperware but how do you tell them apart? Oh, by the rind. Right? Oh, well, they
also they also just look different. Yeah, that's true, I
Matthew Amster-Burton 12:00
guess, look whiter,
but you know, they both keep for an eternity. And I mean, I have really tested this. I mean, I have sometimes like in the summertime, maybe I don't make cacio a Pepe as much because it's so hot. And so I've I've really pushed the limits on how long I can keep a block of Pecorino. And it really is. This is a real like, pantry meal. If you are someone who is open to keeping nice Italian cheeses around. Yeah.
Matthew Amster-Burton 12:27
So like, can we list off the other Roman pastas because I want to keep like returning to them throughout the show. So there's let's yeah, there's there's carbonara, which is which is with, like some sort of cured pork and eggs.
Usually one shot late, right. But Ghana is
Matthew Amster-Burton 12:45
absolutely guincale , which is cured pork and tomato. Okay. There's all agreed chia. Yeah, which is cured poor. It's like xometry Chiado without the tomato or carbonara without the eggs kind
of it and it has a lot of black pepper. Yeah, doesn't it? Yeah. So remember, yeah, it does. And a lot of black pepper in a lot of Roman cooking. Yeah.
Matthew Amster-Burton 13:09
So like, all of these dishes are like very close family relations, I think and can sort of like kind of edge over the line. Like you you can add like, you know, a little bit of tomato to your Graecia. And it becomes an amatriciana they're all so good. And like so unique, though related. I don't know. I just love this family.
And none of them is like a long simmered sauce. I mean, none of these, like, you know, whereas bolognese is probably like, at least, the recipes I've tried have been like, minimum, three hours, right? None of these is like
Matthew Amster-Burton 13:42
that. No. And they're all made with dried pasta. Oh, right. I hadn't thought about that. But when I want to ask our guests like whether these are ever seen made with fresh pasta, but it doesn't seem like it to me.
Well, you know, I think that before she joins us, I want to talk a little bit about the history of this dish in as much as I was able to find out about it. Because I do think that the fact that it is such a good like pantry dish, and that it does use dried pasta, it seems to me part of of what made it part of the Roman canon. So basically, what this dish does is it uses ingredients that all keep for a really long time. So apparently, this dish was very practical for shepherds who were not like you know, who were traveling around all the time with their herds.
Matthew Amster-Burton 14:29
Okay, let's talk about shepherds because I feel like like Shepherd is such a like an evocative word that like, I always think of it as like a you know, poetic or religious symbol rather than like an actual job. Probably like a very hard job right? Like
someone who is actually hurting sheep. Yeah,
Matthew Amster-Burton 14:49
so like, what do you like if you're a shepherd? Like are you are you like a farmer? Are you someone who works for a farmer like, where are you hurting them to and from Iowa? A lot of questions about shoot.
I think you're asking the wrong person. I don't see why is there something about me that says like, ask me about shepherding
Matthew Amster-Burton 15:10
other than the pain you're wearing? No.
Anyway, so so yeah. Okay, so you figure you had these shepherds, right.
Matthew Amster-Burton 15:19
And they would have like sheep like bindle, full of Pecorino.
Because pecorino is made from sheep smell, right? Keep it keeps for a long time. And then they would have dried pasta. And this was a meal that they could make on the go, you know, like how, how now, we modern day Americans just eat salad out of cups while driving our giant cars. Yeah, it's
Matthew Amster-Burton 15:44
very similar. It's
used to just eat pecorino on pasta while driving their sheep.
Matthew Amster-Burton 15:50
Okay, couple a couple questions. When they when they would eat the eat on the go, would they have like a camp fire? Or were they were there be a farmhouse involved there? Would would it be their house?
Or do you think that there was like a manger?
Matthew Amster-Burton 16:03
I think I think probably I mean, if the word manger comes from O'Shea, which is French for to eat, so that's probably
where they pick up animals eat in a manger?
Matthew Amster-Burton 16:13
Yeah, I'm not sure if that's true. I was I was just riffing, but probably.
Wait, I do think that we have a manger for our guinea pig. I remember,
Matthew Amster-Burton 16:24
like, have any of any saviors been born in this year yet. I feel like it happens earlier and earlier every year like like, I got a major like sometimes a Savior as board. They're like before Halloween. I'm like, What?
No, I do think that like, when we were like, you know, outfitting our guinea pig, cat, I think that I saw things listed as Hey, he saw things. Just saw things. They appeared to me I follow the stars. I saw them.
Matthew Amster-Burton 16:57
Now I don't know how shepherds work is what you're saying is like don't
know how shepherds work. But we sure do know what they eat. Yeah. And anyway, Wikipedia has the weirdest description for how this dish is made. Okay. Wikipedia says that the cooked pasta is quote poured onto the grated Pecorino mixed with black pepper. With a little of the hot starchy cooking water. Doesn't that sound dry? wouldn't know
Matthew Amster-Burton 17:21
what to me it sounds the opposite. Like you're taking the pasta pot and just dumping the whole thing into a bowl of cheese. And it turns into like a very weak soup.
I wonder how many people have attempted to make this recipe like just based on the Wikipedia instruction? I
Matthew Amster-Burton 17:37
think that sounds like the premise of like a YouTube channel like does doesn't it? Probably there is well not not necessarily Wikipedia but like, like trying to make recipes based on like very limited instructions. Okay, I guess I guess what I'm thinking of is like that thing you do in elementary school where you try and write a recipe for a peanut butter sandwich and then your teacher makes a fucked up peanut butter sandwich. Based on your instructions. Yeah, it's called. It's the it's the fucked up peanut butter sandwich. Exercise assignment. That's what they call it at my school. Yeah, pretty cool.
Yeah. Anyway, okay. So we're gonna be joined in a second by our guest. Yeah, but I want to just give a little bit more history. Just a second. But anyway, so again, our guest is going to be Kristina Gill, and she and her co author Katie parla. In their book tasting room, they I learned from them that Cacio e Pepe is like a relative newcomer to Roman cuisine. That it It first appeared in the mid 1900s. So I don't know about those shepherds. Like, I mean, really shepherds? Like,
Matthew Amster-Burton 18:41
I don't know about the shepherds. Oh, okay.
Okay. I would have thought that this would have appeared like I don't know, maybe about like 2000 years ago. Yeah.
Matthew Amster-Burton 18:53
I don't know like how long dried pasta has been around because I don't know I don't like I the dried pasta that we have now is like is like made industrially and like of you. You can like dry egg pastas. But like that is a different thing. Yeah, kinda right. We know less about this. It seems that almost anything else?
So yeah, it's a relatively new pasta despite the fact that oh, here's Kristina.
Our guest today is Kristina Gill. Kristina is an Italy based food and travel photographer and editor. She's a co author and the photographer of the book tasting room, and we are thrilled to have you on the show. Kristina.
Kristina Gill 19:41
Thank you. I'm very happy to be here.
Matthew Amster-Burton 19:43
So Kristina, I know you're originally from Nashville. How did you end up in Rome?
Kristina Gill 19:47
Oh, well, the short story is I ended up there for work because I was in the US Foreign Service. Okay. So when I was going out I had three choices. One was Ottawa. One was London, and one was Rome. And the reason I chose Rome was obvious, right? Right. Yeah. But the technical technical reason was Ottawa is the world's the third. I can say it's a second large, second coldest post in the US Foreign Service, but only because they closed down long the tour in Mongolia in the winter, because people just they, you can't survive it. And then the first is Moscow. And so I was like, Okay, I'm not about the cold. And then London. I had a puppy then. And London had the quarantine. Okay, so you don't want to quarantine my puppies. So I chose room
and look at how your life has turned out as a result. I can't even imagine you not living in.
Kristina Gill 20:54
Yeah, I can't like tasting auto.
Well, okay, so, you know, so we've been talking about cacio e Pepe and I'm gonna I'm going to start off here with a really dumb question. And I know you know, there are no dumb questions, yada yada, yada. But this is a dumb question. So living in Rome, do you cook much pasta at home? Because I imagine that if I lived in Rome, cooking pasta at home would be like cooking burgers at home in the US like you can do it. I do it. But if I want a really good burger I go out. So do you cook pasta at home in Rome?
Kristina Gill 21:29
Yes. Yes, you do cook pasta at home. Depending on the region. You have pasta more as your main carb. You know, when you go to the north, they would have more rice in the PO Delta in that area, or in other areas, polenta. But yes, Rome is a pasta city. And you do have pasta at home in a million different ways. Now if you ask me Do people have Katra Peppa at home? That's generally a restaurant dish. Oh, interesting.
Interesting. Why do you think that is?
Kristina Gill 22:07
Because I think that it's not that easy to get right at home and so people are going to eat Kucha, Pepe, they're going to go to a restaurant for it. At least that's what Romans Tell me. And well, ever since I learned the trick, and I have this tagged on my Instagram profile, Elizabeth min Keeley, who is also a food Maven in Rome has a trick on how to make it at home with an emulsion, then that is life changing. But before that life changing trick, I would say only in the restaurant because I kind of think you need like three hands to do it properly.
Matthew Amster-Burton 22:46
Yes, I made it the other day. That's exactly how it felt. Can you share the trick with us? Like
Kristina Gill 22:52
Yeah, so basically, you mix up the the cheese and the pepper and everything and you keep that and then when you're ready to cook, you just add a little bit of the pasta water to that mix that you already did that cream that you've already set aside. So when I spoke with Semyon she uses it for all different things and you just add water at the time.
Wait a minute, you mean just a mixture of grated Pecorino and pepper?
Kristina Gill 23:20
Yeah, just a second. I'm gonna find the thing on my What do you call that thing? My Instagram account.
So highlights it in my highlights if
Kristina Gill 23:29
you scroll on my highlights, oh, I found it. There we go. Gotcha cafe. Yeah. So if you look at that, that profile where she shows you what to do, then you'll see you make a little paste with some water cheese. Okay, so that's just a pace. Oh, interesting. Hey. And then when you're ready to cook, you put a blob in the pan and then you add some of the pasta cooking water. And you have instant country Pepe because you've already done your your emulsion and you're just mixing it up in the pan.
Matthew Amster-Burton 24:00
Interesting. Is that technique in your book? Or is it or is it something that you know?
Kristina Gill 24:05
That's after? Okay, I don't think we would ever have included that type of shortcut in the book because the book was more about traditional how things are prepared. But the cheat is this and the cheat cheat and I'm gonna say this parenthetical Lee that I learned and it kind of broke my heart is that this is kind of the way restaurants do it too many restaurants
Matthew Amster-Burton 24:28
interesting, but like surestay but like it doesn't seem like there's anything wrong with doing it that way. Oh,
Kristina Gill 24:35
absolutely nothing wrong with it. But I just I learned that there are restaurant supply companies that give mixes to restaurants
so no, wait, no. Oh, wait, I have a question by mix. Do you mean is it like a already made like paste?
Kristina Gill 24:54
Yeah. Oh, it's like when I went to Universal Studios. It was like Finding out, you know, Santa Clauses and exists.
Matthew Amster-Burton 25:03
Tell the kids that at Universal Studios.
Yeah, I'm reaching for my phone now. And I'm looking, I'm looking this up. So like, what is the texture of the paste?
Kristina Gill 25:16
It's just what you would have with your raw ingredients before they start to have heat applied.
Matthew Amster-Burton 25:23
This is this is so interesting. I didn't expect to learn this at all. Yeah, cuz the other day like I made it for the first time in quite a while. And I found that like, we did a pod tie episode a while ago and like I really like made pod tie a bunch of times. And it's a tricky dish, because you have to kind of like, keep everything moving and get everything to the right texture and reduce the sauce to the right amount, all at the same time. And I found that like my pod tie skills really came in handy of like moving everything around in the pan so that cheese wouldn't clump. But next time I'm just gonna make a paste.
Kristina Gill 25:53
Yeah, yeah, yeah. If you follow that video because Elizabeth did the video,
Matthew Amster-Burton 25:58
and we will we will link to this in the show notes. Of course. Okay. And Kristina?
Kristina Gill 26:03
Yes. Okay, so this is like Sorry, kids. No, Santa Claus. Yeah. Oh, man. No Pacha Pepe Claus.
Matthew Amster-Burton 26:12
She's like, this is like, sorry, kids. Now. Now this delicious pasta is easier to make. So I think the kids aren't gonna be as disappointed.
Kristina Gill 26:19
Exactly. Now everybody's gonna know it's really going to be sweeping the nation. Right.
So I didn't know before looking at your book. That Cutco is the local Roman dialect word for Pecorino Romano. Yeah, for that cheese specifically, that's so interesting. But it's also it's made in you know, the area of Rome, but it can also be made in other parts of Italy. Right.
Kristina Gill 26:44
So the certified is called Denominazione. Dr. Regina controllata. Which I forget what that's called in English. But you have it in
France. Yeah. The AOC in France? Yes. JC in Italy. Yeah.
Kristina Gill 27:00
Is in Rome and Sardinia. I think it started in Sardinia. And then you make it in Rome. Like I have a farmer up the street from me who who makes it, and he sells it to Tuscans. I wonder if it can also be made on Tuscan. That's
what I saw too. I saw Danya and southern Tuscany This is so yeah, I mean, you know, I love all of this stuff in France and Italy have like, you know, the way in which these products have been like their value has been managed through these laws and things basically, yeah. So do you do you like just go get your pecorino from your neighbor? I mean, no.
Kristina Gill 27:41
And interestingly enough, there Sardinian and they moved from Sardinia to this area right outside of Rome, and are sheep farmers. But no, I don't go to him if I go to get it. I go to a cheese store and I don't eat a lot of that cheese. I am more of a fresh cheese personally. I like softer cheeses. You know I'm a breed cream cheese person. And my husband is really the age cheese. So I will go to the fancy cheese shop to get him the aged cheese's get him to picker you know which you know the really salty kind sounds like love to me yeah, that's my love language with my husband apparently my love languages my father is just a nag him incessantly with my husband. It's like food.
I think that your husband is probably so grateful that that's the way it's turned out.
Kristina Gill 28:39
Well he probably says I nag him incessantly to this just this is my public my public stories.
Well welcome welcome to therapy our Matthew so one thing that Matthew and I have noticed in making this dish and some of our listeners have asked us about it as well as how messy the pot and bowl pot or bowl gets when you make this and how you clean it afterward. Do you have any like tips and tricks?
Kristina Gill 29:09
I am a advocate of just hot water soaks and soap and elbow grease.
Excellent Matthew What do you think about this? Um Are you an advocate of the hot water soak
Matthew Amster-Burton 29:23
I'm absolutely an advocate of the hot water so for for myself and my possible yeah and then like I always want like something to scrape with so that it doesn't all stick to the sponge but I know not everyone even uses a sponge
Kristina Gill 29:36
what are they use?
Matthew Amster-Burton 29:37
Oh I don't know there's like anything there's like go around every once in a while like you know your sponge contains 100 billion bacteria and like if you touch it you will die. But like get another one Yeah, so get a new sponge Okay, so
Kristina Gill 29:49
what I do with difficult stuff also because I'm
Matthew Amster-Burton 29:53
this is this is a safe place to talk about difficult stuff by the way.
Kristina Gill 29:57
Okay, so I guess I should back up Say I have a cast iron skillet that I needed to deal with. And I wrote to the lodge people and even the lodge people are saying if you want to clean out gunk and everything to boil hot water in it, so if you can, like get the difficult layer of gunk off of a cast iron skillet to be able to re season it with boiling hot water than hot water should be able to handle this other stuff. Totally. I also understand that with cheese, it's like when you have a bowl that you've baked in and you put hot water in it. It's like instant mess. Yeah. So what I do is I actually tried to scrape as much as I can off I have a wood you know wooden spoon or something just chipping the stuff off or wiping it with a paper towel first to get as much gunk off and then do the hot water thing but I'm also not opposed to throwing the sponge out after it's messy. Totally. Their sizes. Uh, you just can't get that stuff cheese off. Yeah, throw it out and start over
you got to know when to fold them. Yes. And then put them in the garbage Yes.
Matthew Amster-Burton 31:10
So to go back to the dish itself for a second is Katya Pepe a dish there's always made with dried pasta, or is there like a fresh pasta version? Also?
Kristina Gill 31:20
Um, that's a good question. And I don't know the absolute certain answer. I can say that. I'm sure somewhere people have it with fresh pasta. But I've usually seen it with dried pasta. I mean, it could be with like ravioli. Sure, you know, it's silly or it's used in many different ways but generally I've seen it with dried pasta.
Matthew Amster-Burton 31:44
Yeah, and I think of like we were talking before you got here about like they kind of the family of Roman pasta dishes like carbonara and I'll agree chia and nama tree Gianna that all I think of is just dried pasta dishes and like, yeah, you can try and fancy it up with fresh pasta, but it's something different. Right.
Where would you recommend eating cacio a Pepe in Rome? Oh,
Kristina Gill 32:04
that's a good question. Katya Pepe who had a good country of Pepe so Chasidy Kezar Letho.
Ah, that's in your book. Yes. The restaurant recipe comes from Yes. Okay. Well,
Kristina Gill 32:20
that's yes. Interestingly enough, that's not his recipe because his recipe he uses ice water in the pan so he doesn't do he doesn't use the Paste. They actually make it. I just went to that restaurant with Anissa Helou in October, and she said knocks it knocked your socks off. What you wearing socks? It? And I took some other people also Romans who gave it a thumbs up
Matthew next corporate retreat. We're going around I
Matthew Amster-Burton 32:55
guess so. Okay, we will we will link to that restaurant too. Aside from QA to a PAP a and like even aside from pasta, I've never been to Rome. Molly has like when I go for the first time. Like what are a couple things that I must eat?
Kristina Gill 33:11
Okay, so I'm completely addicted to Suplee. Okay, so I would tell us what those are. Yeah. So they're, they're rice balls, or the shape like an egg actually, that has mozzarella inside. Yes. And classic would have a red goo type of a meat Ragu and the rice and then they're fried, deep fried. They're really good. And sometimes we'll all the times actually I've eaten too many lately. It's I love to just test different ones in different places. Because some places do them like frozen, you know, out of a bag. But the good thing is finding a place that makes its own. And so that is my question. I would say. The other thing I would say that you should eat is pizza al taglio. So just you can go into pizza places where they you know, you just tell them how much pizza you want. And they'll cut it for you with scissors.
Matthew Amster-Burton 34:12
I've heard about this, but never tried to do like hold up your hands to show like how much you want.
Kristina Gill 34:16
Well, yeah, that's what I did. So when I first went to Rome, went to Rome by myself my first time, many moons ago. 1992 That was a long time ago. That was Oh my god. 30 years ago. I'm dating myself. I was only two when that happened. Yeah.
Matthew Amster-Burton 34:36
So yeah, us too.
Kristina Gill 34:38
And I've been to the pizza place around the corner from where I was staying. And you would you know Italians don't really make line so it's just like a throng of people. And I was you know, the polite two year old that was standing and unsure of my Italian. I waited and waited and by the time I asserted myself at the counter was the time that I asserted myself and no one was their lunch break was over like an hour had passed. And because I was ashamed of speaking Italian in front of all these people, and I get to the counter, and then all I do is just like, raise my hands and show how to point to the pizza and show the shape of how much how much I want and then walk out ashamed that I couldn't even manage to say whatever I'd learned in Italian class.
Matthew Amster-Burton 35:25
I mean, I think if you walked out with pizza, you have nothing to be ashamed.
Kristina Gill 35:29
Well, I walked out with all that was left the wolves.
Matthew Amster-Burton 35:36
And you were a baby like what? Yeah, when
Kristina Gill 35:39
I was two, I could barely read it to the counter. But yeah, so the reason that I say the pizza Tamayo is to go to a place like pizza barium, by Gabriella bone Qi because you have different flavors and combinations. And so you can test test out the different flavors and combinations. What else so what I recommend a good catcher Pepe, because I think that that's really one of the essentials of Italian cooking is how you can have few ingredients that make such a symphony of flavors. And that's something involving artichokes. I was gonna say, so you have two or three so you either have the fried artichokes, which I think are really good or you have the kind of truffle a lot Romana which is just, they're cooked in a pan. So the artichoke dip in the book, the way that you make that artichoke dip is actually how you would make carciofi alla Romana, then the artichoke dip, then you just mashing them up. It's cooked in a pan in oil and water, and then it's covered and then you have in the spring you have the pasta Lavinia Rola, which is also in the book, which is spring like peas, Fava Beans, greens and carciofi in it. Wow. But maybe try to find a time when the Roman artichokes are out. That's the early part of the year. And you get the fried the fried artichoke?
Ah, nice. Well, it has been such a pleasure talking with you. In closing, is there anything that you'd like to plug while you're on the show a new project or anything you're excited about in your work?
Kristina Gill 37:26
No, I'm just trying to think of the next. The next thing. And yeah, and just generally being ballerific. Terrific.
Matthew Amster-Burton 37:33
Excellent. Yeah, that's worth plugging. And we will for sure. Link to your Instagram and your book.
Kristina Gill 37:38
Oh, yeah. Thank you so much for having me. It's been very fun talking to you.
Matthew Amster-Burton 37:42
Thank you so much for being on the show. This has been great.
Thank you. So that was so great. I had no idea about like pay sharing it as like as like a like a kind of dirty white creamy like peanut butter kind of texture. Like
Matthew Amster-Burton 37:59
some of that dirty white peanut butter. You're set. Okay, anyway, Kristina is great. I want to have her on the show again. I'm just putting it out there.
That sounds terrific. Maybe artichoke season?
Matthew Amster-Burton 38:11
Yeah, we have we done an artichoke episode. It's not something I've ever cooked. And like I've only wait you've never cooked an artichoke never cooked an artichoke and I've probably eaten an artichoke less than 10 times. Oh,
wow. Oh man.
Matthew Amster-Burton 38:25
Unless you count and artichoke hearts on pizza.
Okay, producer Abby, please flag this for us artichokes. Okay, so as I mentioned, I may catch a puppy at home a couple times a month because I just I never ordered this stuff in restaurants. And I've never made it the way that Kristina describes like by I've never made a paste out of the cheese and a little bit of cooking water. No, but always welcome to Yeah, me too. So the original recipe that I made was so fiddly, the one from Gourmet magazine listeners, I do not recommend this recipe anymore. I just don't feel like it's that great.
Matthew Amster-Burton 39:06
Are you gonna post a retraction on your blog?
I'm not not. But here's here's what you do. I copied a snippet of the instructions into the agenda. Okay, from from the rest. This is a magazine one. Yeah, that I think is too fiddly. So it says while the spaghetti is cooking, fill a large glass or ceramic bowl with hot water to warm it. Just before the pasta is ready. Drain the bowl but do not dry it. Reserve one half cup of the pasta cooking water then drain the pasta quickly in a colander. Do not shake off the excess water. dumped the pasta into the warm barely wet bowl. Sprinkle three quarter cup cheese and about three tablespoons cooking water evenly over the spaghetti and tossed quickly but gently. I mean does that sound fiddly or what?
Matthew Amster-Burton 39:52
It sounds like super fiddly.
Anyway, I feel annoyed just reading it and I can't believe I used to make it now
Matthew Amster-Burton 39:58
here's what I did. So I made it in I made the the recipe that you recommended I even have this this printout that you sent you send me like a photo of like your like hand annotated cookbook page from Jessica battle on his repertoire. And this recipe uses butter which I don't know like whether this would cause consternation people are gonna freak out. Lots of black pepper and a mix of Parmigiano Reggiano and Pecorino Romano. I went out and got some nice chunks of cheese
and this mix of parm and pecorino I think is not traditional, but I've encountered it in a lot of recipes for cacio e pepe, in particular, Melissa Clark's recipe, which is another one that I've tried uses both cheeses.
Matthew Amster-Burton 40:40
Yeah, no, I for me, like an all pecorino pasta dish goes a little bit over the funk line for me, so So I want I want the balance.
I'd venture to guess it might be that way for a lot of American palates. I mean, it is a very salty, tangy, funky cheese. But let me tell you a little bit about Jessica's recipe. Yeah,
Matthew Amster-Burton 40:59
in concert with the with the Parmesan Reggiano, it's great. You melt the butter in in a pan I used a nonstick pan and you kind of like sizzle the the black pepper a little bit and it's cracked black pepper close like my impression is like if I had like put into teaspoons of finely ground black pepper. That would have made it overpower that more finely ground black pepper is stronger than cracked black pepper.
I tend to use a slightly more finely ground than what I would call cracked and I don't measure it. I just sort of do it by eye. But yeah, I love that you kind of you almost like warm the the black pepper in this butter in your skillet while the pasta is cooking. Yep. And then you lift the pasta out of the pot with chalk.
Matthew Amster-Burton 41:41
Yes, I used my pasta spaghetti server utensil that you hate. Perfect and it was perfect. Then in the recipe she says to toss in the Parviz shadow first and then finish it with the pecorino I had already mixed the two cheeses together because I didn't read that part. So I just put in most of the cheese into the pan and just kind of squiggled the pasta round to to avoid clumping there was still some clumping but not and you added pasta water and add pasta water starting with a half a cup and then a little more.
Mm hmm. And what I have found is that so you know you want everything to be warm but you don't want the cheese to get I have found that if I have the the skillet on the burner and the burners turned on that it makes my cheese clump.
Matthew Amster-Burton 42:29
Yeah, you so text like warning me to take the pan off the burner and I did and like you should. I would like to just get texts from you periodically just like like telling me like how to stay out of trouble because I found that really refreshing. Oh, good.
Okay, good. Good. So anyway, what you wind up with,
Matthew Amster-Burton 42:48
just like is out of the blue. Just text me stop doing that and probably it'll be apropos.
Okay, okay, I can't wait. I'm gonna try this later today. Right? But Forget I said that. Okay, so it'll feel exciting. And surprisingly, it will. Yeah, I do feel like even though Jessica's recipe I think makes things much easier because of the presence of butter, which I think helps build that emotion.
Matthew Amster-Burton 43:12
butter butter definitely does have natural emulsifiers in it. That's why you can make like a burger blog.
Yes. And why like when you mount things with butter. That's it's right.
Matthew Amster-Burton 43:23
Yeah, me it's me attacks and tell me to mount things. Okay, remind me to mount. Okay. Anyway, but all this really funny word, right? Okay. Anyway,
I feel like Jessica's recipe makes things easier to succeed. With that said, I've probably made her recipe at least 20 times, if not more, and I feel like I get better at it every time. Like my emotion gets better. With less cheese clumping. Yeah, how was your clumping?
Matthew Amster-Burton 43:53
Pretty good, like, far from perfect, but pretty good. And like I said, like, I think having made a ton of pod tie really prepared me for this, because both of them are dishes where you have to keep the noodles moving around in the case. And once you've had to get that motion, it becomes automatic. And I think you're right, I'm gonna make this again, and it's gonna be a little better next time.
Yeah. So I mean, I feel like there are like three things that are really important that that I think about when I make this dish one, of course is the speed with which you're tossing the pasta and getting the whole thing to come together. The other is, as I said, the importance of having everything hot, but for me not having the heat on underneath the pan when I'm mixing it all up. And then also you gotta have your cheese really finely graded. Yeah, so it melts easily. So either a microplane or like the rasp side of a box grater. Yeah, that really destroys your fingers. Yes. Oh
Matthew Amster-Burton 44:46
God. Like I I'm afraid of migrator like there have just been too many incidents.
Wow, Matthew. Well, I'm gonna think about what text I send you later, like whether it's gonna be mount something or stop doing that. or watch out for your greater
Matthew Amster-Burton 45:03
it's behind you, Matthew,
did you notice that this is a dish that like you you need everyone in your house to sit down and be ready to eat the instant it's done. Yeah, definitely like did you have that feeling? Yeah. And
Matthew Amster-Burton 45:15
they were I think we were watching an episode of Felicity so they were like like sitting in front of the TV ready ready to watch Felicity and eat pasta
my spouse has a cute little tic that we can now joke about. It used to be that used to be that literally every time I would finish cooking dinner and I would be like okay guys dinner in three minutes. Ash would spontaneously decide to start cleaning the guinea pig cage sure, like literally every time and we even discussed this in therapy I need you to be ready to Oh yeah, I am done cooking because like I've just put all this effort into this and like you must eat it while it's hot. Or else have you thought about
Matthew Amster-Burton 46:01
installing some of those heat lamps above your breakfast bar.
You think I have a breakfast? Oh, you see breakfast bar first.
Matthew Amster-Burton 46:09
I have a breakfast.
I guess what you have is a blank behind
Matthew Amster-Burton 46:13
when we put anything on it and then turn the sink on it gets splattered with sink water but it's a breakfast bar.
It's a sink bar Yeah, so
Matthew Amster-Burton 46:20
anyway, when heat lamps just just put them like right over the table so
instead of a pendant lamp or whatever you put out you know no chandelier ears
Matthew Amster-Burton 46:28
yeah no chandelier is in your house. No way not after that the operate incident okay, I've we covered Katya a Pepe oh wait you you mentioned that it's important that the pasta has a rough surface and I do I did find that to be important that you want to get like it doesn't have to be like super fancy like $6 Spaghetti although that will be good. But like I find out like just like you go to like the regular supermarket and they will have like a store brand of imported Italian pasta that'll say, extruded through bronze dyes on it. And that's that's plenty good. I want to be in the commercial for this pasta. That was my audition.
Matthew the entire time you've been talking your audio has been cutting in and out my internet connection must be really bad. And so like I heard you say little bits of snatches and then you went extruded through bronze. You faded back into nothingness.
Matthew Amster-Burton 47:21
I said I said bits and snatches a lot.
Oh, yes. Okay, well, yeah. So this has been our cacio e pepe episode in which I feel like we learned a lot and came to no conclusive answers and probably shared a recipe that people will say is inauthentic, but it's delicious.
Matthew Amster-Burton 47:36
Yeah. And, you know, we're also going to link to Kristina's book, maybe we'll like look up how to make a paste. Yeah, I think I just pronounced wait paste in a really strange.
Do you remember in like, preschool art time when there would be like a plastic tub of pain salutely And the teacher would come along with wooden popsicle sticks and scoop some out for you and leave it like on your paper place still happen?
Matthew Amster-Burton 48:00
Do you think it isn't the same? Like I don't know. And did you ever eat waste?
I never ate Yeah, me neither pay. No, I was not the kind of kid to like just put random stuff in my mouth.
Matthew Amster-Burton 48:10
No, but then like paste like like Kraft paste. Like if you're if you're into crafts, is that something that you would use as an adult? Or is it like only for kids?
I feel like somehow it's only for kids. Yeah, I don't know why. You know what I miss? I miss rubber cement.
Matthew Amster-Burton 48:25
I have rubber cement because I've used it for clarinet repairs.
The smell of that stuff. Oh, yeah. Oh my god. I love it so much.
Matthew Amster-Burton 48:34
Yeah. And God I love the smell of rubber seek at one point like me and some other like stupid kids set rubber cement on fire.
Oh, is it highly flammable? I
Matthew Amster-Burton 48:43
think it is. Yeah. Oh,
I know what you're gonna be doing later
Matthew Amster-Burton 48:46
on. I'll show listeners an important safety message from us do set rubber cement on fire. It's cool. nothing could go wrong. Great Mountain and my lawyer agrees. Yes. Now when you finish mounting something using the reverse. Then start a conflagration
and then stop doing that.
Matthew Amster-Burton 49:05
Okay, let's let's let's move on. When you say stop doing that you're like a verbal fire extinguisher.
I am okay Matthew Can I read today spilled maelys
Today spilled mail comes from listener Ren who asks, this past year my husband and I moved into our new home and recently had our baby sage gratulations congratulations listener Ren. Needless to say there's been a lot of pizza and takeout Chinese food on our table. Last time we got to the fortune cookie portion of the meal. We read our fortunes and ate the cookies as usual. I then watched as my husband ate the fortune paper slip from the cookie. He says he's been doing this for years but I just noticed Have either of you seen or heard of this? Also, is there anything similarly surprising you've discovered About your spouse's during pandemic takeout meals.
Matthew Amster-Burton 50:03
Okay, I'm gonna answer the last question. No, and I'm gonna answer the question about have you seen or heard of this? Also? No, this is, this is maybe the wildest thing we've ever heard from a listener.
This is our absolute most out there listener, and yet, in a good way,
Matthew Amster-Burton 50:23
it seems like kind of an obvious superstition when I stopped to think about it.
I mean, so one thing that I was thinking about is like cupcake papers, right? Yeah, that actually gets the food stuck to it. Yeah. Do you eat those? Oh, no, I don't eat those. But I can imagine, you know, winding up eating a little bit of it. If you're like, trying to scrape the all the cupcake crumbs off. Okay. Yeah, there, whatever. What I find really fascinating about the fortune paper, the fortune that like the slip of paper, is that it's not like it has any food on it.
Matthew Amster-Burton 50:57
Oh, by the way, I forgot to something important. I asked listener Ren to check with her husband, whether he eats it in the belief that the fortune will only come true if you eat it. And she said, Yes.
Now that I'm thinking about it. I mean, it seems way more full circle to go ahead and eat it rather than like sticking it in your wallet.
Matthew Amster-Burton 51:18
And like, do you think that you and I would have like more more friends and be more prosperous? If we had been eating fortunes? All our lives out? Yeah, I wonder at what point in the meal does? Does he I guess, like, how long does it stay out of the cookie but also out of him? Because I foresee this scenario where like, like she asked him like, what was your fortune? And he's like, I don't remember I already ate.
No, I think I mean, the vibe I'm getting here is that these people eat their fortune cookie at the end of the meal, like normal people do. And then he eats the slip. Okay, as a final like as a nightcap.
Matthew Amster-Burton 51:57
Did you have you discovered anything surprising about your spouse during pandemic takeout meals that you're willing to share on a show that people listened to?
I don't think I've discovered anything interesting. What one thing that I have discovered in this kind of relates to cacio e Pepe is that my spouse does not mind eating food that is ordinarily eaten hot. They don't mind eating it once it's cold, like kind of congealed and cold.
Matthew Amster-Burton 52:22
Yeah, I like food.
Yeah, I want hot food. And I don't want to eat something that's been sitting on the table for a while.
Matthew Amster-Burton 52:33
Yeah, same here although like it kind of it kind of depends like there are some things that are like okay, that are like made to be okay if they sit around like like Thai curry comes to mind like if you Yes, yes like that. That's fine like warm and it gets better when it's like sat around for a little bit.
You know what I do? I do appreciate this fact about my spouse Sometimes though, because it sort of it takes the pressure off you a little bit right totally takes the pressure off. And also like for instance, if we've gotten Thai curries and rice and if I help myself first and they're in the middle of doing something else or whatever like I don't worry about cage I'll just leave the the container of rice open like I know they won't mind if the rest isn't hot anymore by the time they get to it.
Matthew Amster-Burton 53:17
Okay, that sounds good. All right. So I want to hear from other listeners contact at spilled milk podcast comm if you or anyone in your household has has a food habit that you think rises to the level of weirdness of my husband eats fortune cookie fortune. I want to hear about all of these.
Okay, Matthew, you've got our now but wow, this week
Matthew Amster-Burton 53:49
okay, I'm really, really excited about this one because like, I've discovered a new favorite author who I think has many books that probably some of which are going to be difficult to track down but meaning, you know, have to go to like book finder.com I recently wanted to read a new mystery. And so I just went on the Seattle Public Library and said show me some mysteries that have been published recently. I want to put a hold on one. And it recommended a mystery called Coco van by Charlotte Carter. And it's in the three book the net Hayes series by Charlotte Carter. And I thought it was a new book. It turns out it actually was it was released in 1999. But the series was recently repackaged and re released by Penguin and the detective. It's an amateur detective series in the net Hayes. She is like a wisecracking sax playing busker from New York City who keeps getting caught up in like various kinds of criminal trouble and has to solve a mystery. Basically, if you have someone someone gets murdered only Ninette can solve the crime. And she is just a wonderful character like you know, beautifully imperfect and funny and believable and just like someone you want to spend several books worth of time with the book that I read first Coco van, I think is my favorite one. It's the second book in the series, but they stand alone fine, and they're short. And in this one, the dad goes to Paris to search for her missing and, and meets and falls for a fellow busker in Paris. And in the book, like you learn a ton about Paris, which is some, you know, place that the author clearly loves, especially a lot about, like the black American experience in Paris, and like about jazz in Paris, and there's tons of food in the book and tons of sex in the book. And both are like described lovingly, and like, but it never comes off as like, you know, I'm the author, and I'm going to teach you about all this stuff that I know. It's just really like organic to the story. And I had a wacky experience while preparing for this now. But wow. Which is so like, I had never heard of this author. She doesn't have a Wikipedia page. And so I started Googling to find out like, you know, Okay, what else did she write? And I found a page that was like, you know, a complete bibliography of Charlotte Carter, who's written many books, like, mostly mystery and romance. And this web page said, and she passed away in 2013. And so I'm like, oh, that's, that's, that's too bad. And that's interesting. And then I started finding interviews with her from 2021. So she's very much alive. She is She is quite elderly at this point. Oh, but dead so it was a very weird feeling of like someone that I thought was dead turned out to be alive, which I don't think I've ever really had that exact feeling before. Like maybe like some random celebrity that like you know, it didn't that person die, but like not somebody really cared about, but this was really weird. Anyway, so, Coco van by Charlotte Carter, highly recommend it.
fan tastic Well, our producer is Abby, Cerquitella.
Matthew Amster-Burton 56:47
Please rate and review us wherever you get your podcasts, including you can now rate podcasts on Spotify. So if you listen to our show on Spotify, please give it as many stars as you feel you can comfortably dole out five stars just give us five stars.
Absolutely. I think that's what Matthew has been trying to say all along. You can chat with other spilled milk listeners on our subreddit, it's reddit.com/are/everything spilled milk.
Matthew Amster-Burton 57:13
Yep. If you want to send us an email for for spilled mail contact at spilled milk pod pod pod pod you know, Doug podcast.com I've made it almost through the whole episode before my mouth fell off.
So well, and of course we'll you know, we'll link to Kristina's book Tasting Rome and all kinds of other things her Instagram and all that in our show notes. So go check her out and thanks for listening to spilled milk.
Matthew Amster-Burton 57:45
Oh for my for my closing joke today. I think I've mentioned this on the on the show before you know how we always like have like very formal closing joke segments so formal. This is this is like the dumbest but my favorite ever fortune cookie fortune like I always say in bed after every fortune cookie fortune like every good I came up with it. My favorite one ever was when I opened up fortune cookie and it said your friends always come first.
I'm one of your friends. Hey
Matthew Amster-Burton 58:16
Matthew, You are frozen. Oh, hold on.
Matthew Amster-Burton 58:29
Yeah, okay, let's see whose problem this is. I don't know. Can you see me?
I can't hear you. Is it you? Or is it me? I can hear you typing Oh, you can still hear me but you can't see me can't see you it says camera is disabled due to slow internet connection video is still recorded. Is this slow internet connection on my side or yours? Oh, yeah, it gets me
Matthew Amster-Burton 58:50
Yeah, it my side looks really good. Does it now? I don't know though. No, my upload is slow. No, no, it's okay.
How's my now? any different? It's worse when you were frozen there. I think you were talking and I couldn't hear you. But yeah,
Matthew Amster-Burton 59:06
definitely totally froze up for a minute but if you can hear me now I don't care if I can see you