Another dish you always find in Roman restaurants, besides spaghetti alla carbonara, is rigatoni alla gricia, which is the forefather of the more famous “Amatriciana” and is made with guanciale, pecorino romano and black pepper. There are different versions of its origins: some say it comes from Grisciano, a small town close to Amatrice bordering on the regions of Lazio, Umbria, Marche and Abruzzo. Others think that it originated from a group of Swiss immigrants that lived in that area and came originally from the alpine canton of Grigioni (“Grischuna” in their original language), where they had used bacon in their recipes for centuries.

Being Swiss and somewhat of a patriot myself, I like this version better and for all I know the name of the town Grisciano might very well have the same origins as the recipe. 

My variation (and many people would kill me for this) is to add some chopped onions to the frying mix, sometimes even sprinkle it with a half glass of dry white wine and let it evaporate for extra flavor. You can try and see what you like best.

Alibaba is our mysterious chef-photographer based in Rome, Italy. You can read his earlier columns and recipes here.