Usually when someone tells us a food is “the greatest thing in the history of the world,” we dismiss them as hyperbolic fools who can’t be trusted with an opinion. But when Anthony Bourdain tells us that a food is “the greatest thing in the history of the world?" Well, we’re willing to believe him with no reservations. (See what we did there?)
Bourdain has talked at length about his love of the classic Roman pasta recipe cacio e pepe — or “cheese and pepper.” It is Italy’s equivalent of mac and cheese — an impossibly simple, yet deeply decadent dish that only requires five ubiquitous ingredients: pasta, pasta water, fresh ground pepper, melted butter, and pecorino or parmesan cheese.
In one infamous episode of No Reservations, Bourdain visited a secret restaurant (later revealed to be Ristorante Roma Sparita) where he enjoyed a cacio e pepe so delicious, he listed a handful of life experiences he would sacrifice in order to eat it again (namely, a Jefferson Airplane concert, some acid trips, reading The Catcher in the Rye, and his first sexual experience).
Unfortunately, not all of us have TV shows that fund our globetrotting. But we do have access to an Internet that connects us with blogs like Food Lover’s Odyssey, which visited Ristorante Roma Sparita and is now sharing the near-exact recipe.
Half pound spaghetti
About 6 cups well-salted boiling water
For the sauce:
About 1 1/2 cups (2 large ladles) boiling pasta water
1 tablespoon freshly, coarsely grated pepper, plus more for garnish
2 tablespoons butter
1 3/4 cups grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus more for garnish
Cook the pasta according to the directions for that brand. When the pasta is not quite cooked, about three minutes before you would normally take it out of the water, add the boiling pasta water, the butter and the pepper to a hot saute pan. Add the drained pasta to the pan and toss through the water mixture until the pasta absorbs almost all of the water. Remove from the heat, and add the grated cheese to the pasta. Quickly stir the cheese into the pasta. Place into the Parmesan cup and garnish with more grated cheese and freshly grated pepper, to taste.
For more information on the recipe — or to learn how to make it extra authentic with a molded parmesan bowl—please visit Food Lover’s Odyssey. Or, y'know, Rome.
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