Roman cuisine: over 2000 years it hasn’t changed much 25/10/2010 – 28/10/2010

The Roman Empire was once the center of the world, and the center of this Empire was – of course – Rome. Its vast influence on the entire “known” world created the first form of globalization, thus exporting Roman culture all over the world. It also globalized Roman “Italian” food – a trend that has never really stopped. Italian food is now one of the most popular in the world and most common recipes have ties to Italian cuisine.

I had the opportunity to work with an American director Mark Ganguzza and his offsider Sean on a pilot for a series about the origins of food. The host was food anthropologist Sergio Grasso, a food expert who appears in many of the national Italian Rai network shows. Sergio defines himself as a gastrosofer (a mix between a gastronomist and a philosopher). Mark Brewer was the cameraman, and the watch-collecting Antongiorgio Sabia was the soundman (every day he arrived wearing a different watch).

It wasn’t as tiring as the previous work I’d been doing (Seven Australia’s intense coverage of the Mary MacKillop canonization) – but it was fascinating.

The first day we shot in two locations in Rome: Testaccio, where there is an artificial hill built thousands of years ago with pieces of discarded clay jars – used by the Romans to conserve food and oil; and in the Jewish Ghetto, which I got to know very well over the next few days.

Day 2, our plan was to start very early shooting near the Colosseum but the weather was awful so (unfortunately!) we had to sit around in a warm coffee shop drinking hot chocolate for a couple of hours. Finally the sky cleared up a bit and we shot a great standup with Sergio on the rooftop of a hotel overlooking Rome.

As you can see (on my behind the scenes video) the enthusiasm and expressivity of our host is fantastic, and he looks great on television. His only concern is that he has a few problems pronouncing English words so we frequently had to shoot multiple takes of his standups, but hey, we were getting to see some amazing parts of Rome, so waiting around wasn’t really a problem.

We headed back to the Jewish Ghetto for lunch, taking advantage of the moment to film a fried artichoke cooked with a millennia-old recipe invented by the Roman Jews.

The next day we went to Ostia Antica, the ancient port of Rome, an amazingly conserved archeological site, to shoot a few sequences of our host between the ruins.

The caretaker invited us to have lunch with him and his family and our host, Sergio, offered to cook.

The last day Mark B. and I went out to shoot some general vision of Rome.

It would become a very interesting day – because at lunch somebody tried to steal our camera! We were sitting at a local pizzeria and Mark had the camera between his feet. We heard the tripod move and looked down and everything was fine, but about ten seconds later we looked down again and the camera was gone. SHOCK HORROR! Mark immediately ran out of the pizzeria, and on a hunch ran straight ahead. About 200 meters down the road he found a sneaky fellow walking fast and covering the camera with his coat, Mark grabbed the camera and called the guy every offensive name he could think of in multiple languages. He came back to the pizzeria (where I had stayed with the rest of the gear to bravely fend off any other crafty thieves) holding the camera heroically over his head!

Anyway in all it was a very interesting shoot, and I learned lots of things about traditional and ancient Roman cooking!



~ by brendo91 on 25/10/2010.

One Response to “Roman cuisine: over 2000 years it hasn’t changed much 25/10/2010 – 28/10/2010”

  1. great days and great shoot!
    Hey no words on me?! I know I always have to be the “Bad one” with you guys to make everything works on time!! especially when our stories are about “CUISINE”!! 🙂

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