The Four Classic Roman Pastas as Novels

As an Italian woman and lover of pasta, let me walk you through what the four Roman pastas would be as novels.

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I have been in Rome the past month enjoying its pasta delicacies. It has truly been a life-changing experience to have such fresh and homemade food at all times of the day; there is nothing I can compare it to, back in the states. Rome has four classic Roman pastas — Gricia, Amatriciana, Carbonara, and Cacio e Pepe. Though quite simple dishes, they are all connected and play off of each other.

I have collected four novels that I think will pair nicely with these famous plates.

Gricia

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Al dente pasta with guanciale (pork cheek) and sauce made from the rendered fat and grated pecorino romano. I have never tried this dish as I am not a pork eater, but my friends say it is delicious with the perfect amount of chewy and crispiness.

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The classic, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee would pair nicely with this pasta. It’s an easy yet interesting read, one that would be similar to the simple yet tasty Gricia dish. It is a novel that I read in eighth grade, meaning that it is a great beginner’s book just as this dish is perfect for an aspiring cook. I could go as far as to say the ingredients coincide with the characters in the book. Scout Finch, as the narrator, acts as the pasta, the biggest component on the plate. Atticus Finch, the progressive lawyer, acts as the cheese, binding everyone together. Boo Radley, the mysterious yet kind man acts as the guanciale; the crunch on top and mingled into the rest of the dish.

Amatriciana

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Take pasta alla Gricia, add tomato sauce and chili pepper flakes, and you have Amatriciana. Interestingly enough, a debate has been had over whether this dish also has onions cooked in guanciale fat or a sprinkling of chopped parsley; leave it to Italians to argue over the ingredients in a pasta dish.

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The forever loved and hated Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer shares debated topics with the Amatriciana pasta. Its love story, horror and take on the supernatural have kept fans obsessed and dedicated to the series for almost 20 years. However, it has its downfalls; a lack of character development and a clear plot, as well as the adored and despised movie adaptations. I have always been a huge lover of this series but I can see why people have their issues. Nonetheless, it is still enjoyed, just as the Amatriciana is.

Carbonara

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A very popular dish in my house growing up, Carbonara is once again a rendition of the kinds of pasta already mentioned. This dish uses pancetta instead of guanciale and the sauce is made from melted fat, and raw eggs are beaten together with grated pecorino romano and parmesan cheese. Though I’ve never ordered this pasta for myself, I have been known to sneak a piece of spaghetti just to taste the delicious sauce.

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It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover was automatically my pairing if only for its popularity. Just as this dish is one of the most common on a menu, this novel has soared up the Top 100 book charts. Colleen Hoover is a newly popular author and many of her books have been flying off the shelves and gaining interest via TikTok. The story follows Lily Bloom as she struggles in her relationship with Ryder only to have her childhood love Atlas come back into her life.

As with Carbonara, this novel was not one I would pick for myself. But just as I like to take a spaghetti noodle, I was drawn to read this novel.

Cacio e Pepe

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The best for last; Cacio e Pepe. Pasta bathed in a sauce made with nothing more than starchy pasta water, pecorino romano, and crushed black pepper. This dish is not only deliciously filling, but it also has a nice spice from the copious amounts of pepper. I know you must be thinking I only like this dish because it is the only one out of the four that doesn’t have any meat, and you’d only be semi-correct. This dish is mouth-watering to even the biggest carnivores.

It would only be right to pair my favorite book with my current pasta obsession. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë is a classic novel and one that is very dear to my heart. In the same eighth-grade class where I read To Kill A Mockingbird, I was gifted this novel by the teacher. Her own beloved copy still remains on my bedside table now worn by my own dog ears and markings (yes, I’m guilty of it!). This passionate love story does not make for an easy read but it makes for quite the delicious one.

Books and pasta are my two favorite indulgences at the moment. Hopefully, you are inspired to make one of these delicious, easy dishes and grab a book to accompany your meal.

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