The Greeks and the Romans already ate a lot of street food, and it was fried fish sold by pedlars during the city holidays. This is still a Roman speciality, just think about the filetto di baccalà (salted cod fillet).
The Romans didn’t only fry in oil, but also in other liquids such as oil and wine, water, honey. The verb to fry was mainly a synonym of to cook: frying meant to cook at high temperatures and the food would make a certain sound, but they were far from the crispy and surely tastier frying process of today.
Maybe, the most famous street food of the Capital. The name “supplì” comes from the French “surprise”, talking about the oozy mozzarella surprise hidden inside. The first supplì were sold on the streets, fried on order in a huge pot, and eaten mainly during holidays, in markets or festivals. In 1870 they were put in the first menus of the Roman inns.
In Rome, the supplì is a true popular monument. Its first written recipe dates back to 1929 and it was written by Ada Boni in the cookbook “La Cucina Romana”. The supplì is a culinary product that arrived during the Restoration, after Napoleon’s occupation, and maybe it is a variant of the neapolitan rice sartù. The first vendors went around in the narrow alleys of Rome with a chafing dish shouting: “Supplì di Riso!”, often sold together with the battered baccalà or apples. Nowit can be found in all the pizzerias in many variants, but it has always been a street food to be eaten with your hands, alone or in company of friends.
The potato croquettes or crocchè come from the Angevin France. They are potato and egg based fried balls, typical street food of the streets of Naples, together with pizza. They are sold piping hot, often in a paper basket (called cuoppo), together with other delicacies such as arancini and fried polenta. The croquettes are not only a neapolitan speciality, they are the epitome of street food in the South of Italy and in the rest of the country; sold together with fried battered veggies and olive ascolane (stuffed fried olives), they represent the fritto misto typical of our antipasti and of the fortified happy hours.
The fried baccalà, apparently appreciated a lot by Pope Pius XII, is salt cured cod, as opposed to stockfish, that is dried cod. Typical dish of Christmas Eve, it has become a street food eaten all year round. It was born in the alleys of the Jewish ghetto of Rome, where nowadays is enjoyed by tourists and Romans alike. Sometimes it is served with supplì, fiori di zucca (stuffed courgette flowers), fried custard and the judaic artichoke.
In Rome and surroundings, fried veggies, together with fried baccalà and apple fritters, are a typical dish of Christmas Eve, although it can be found in many places all year round, for our palate happiness. The list of these delicacies, that you’ll find almost completely at MAMI in via della Pace 27/A, includes the following: broccoli, courgettes, aubergines, potatoes, artichokes and courgette flowers, that can often be found also off season. Generically, the batter is made by mixing flour and sparkling water or beer, and it gets fried lightly to preserve the natural taste of the veggies.
Fried food has been demonised for years, even when it came to fried veggies. Apparently, sccording to a recent Spanish research, frying veggies is better than boiling them. It’s important to use extra-virgin olive oil (or a good vegetable oil, for example peanut oil). Some veggies, in fact, contain antioxidants that will counteract the onset of cancer, and help to prevent several diseases such as diabetes and sight loss, properties that get lost with boiling.
Fried food, eaten moderately, if fried using extra-virgin olive oil never going over 180°C, although higher in calories, it is the healthiest and most recommended way of frying food.
Have a look at our fried food.