If any dish can challenge Carbonara for Rome’s heart and stomach it is Caccio and Pepe. This dish dates back much further than the other, and it uses even more common everyday ingredients. In short, the dish is a work of genius.
Dried pasta, grated Pecorino Romano (Parmiggiano is a good substitute) and fresh ground black pepper. They are all ingredients that most Italians keep on hand at all times; and ingredients that keep well – even without a refrigerator.
The dish revels in simplicity, yet it is one of the hardest pasta dishes to make. The secret is to swirl the grated cheese with a bit of the hot pasta water, tossing the steaming pasta vigorously to create a smooth sauce. Do it right and you achieve perfection, do it wrong and you have a bowl of noodles sitting in a lake of water with clumps of hard cheese and swirls of oil on top.