Andrea measures flour: 12.5kg tender wheat zero, 1.5kg wholemeal, and 1kg farro. He scoops it from 3 paper sacks into one, then upended and poured it into the mixer inside the corner of the stall. If you’d requested me to close 12 months what dry flour smells like, I might have replied, “Now, not lots”. Having spent the remaining six months meeting pasta and pizza makers, I’ve learned that accurate, sparkling flour, especially wholemeal, smells hopeful and sappy, like sparkling sawdust and a toddler. “It smells alive,” Andrea says as he pours 10 liters of water into the mixer. The scent is mainly pleasing within the cool of the marketplace at 8 a.m. Once the flour and water are dough, they’re left to rest for an hour, and we move for espresso at the market bar.
The new Testaccio marketplace may be vibrant and present, the other of its vintage, bosky incarnation; however, its spirit has remained the same. This is both accurate and difficult. Good because its approach is nevertheless the resilient, hard-operating promote it has usually been, with a tangible sense of shared records and community among stallholders, several of whom have been there for more than 50 years and whose families have labored stalls for almost a century. Tricky means novices must be resilient and hardworking because it method suspicion and resistance to alternate.
Husband and spouse Andrea and Paola Manco are the very definitions of this. At Casa Manco, the smell of sap is masked by the aroma of espresso and warm milk, and the sound of the mixer is replaced by the fierce gurgle and steam of the bar’s espresso device and the lyrics of Lizzo’s Juice: “I’m now not a snack at all. Look, child, I’m the complete damn meal.” Having misplaced nearly everything in a devastating collision of instances (the Italian financial disaster and kingdom duplicity), the couple decided to begin something new; Andrea, an architect, taught himself to make pizza dough, and Paola to top bake them.
They weren’t the only new arrivals in the tightly-knit marketplace. However, they selected to make one of Rome’s fit-to-be-eaten canons, pizza al taglio (pizza by using the slice). They earned their region, appreciation, and queues by making something exceedingly proper. Andrea’s dough is baked into a perfect spiritual pizza with substance and chunks while being as gentle as an aerated cushion.
Back on the stall, the mixer has grown to become one. Only now is the yeast added, a mere 18g, observed with salt and olive oil. While the dough twists and turns, Andrea offers me the home portions, which I will use as a place to begin and modify as I learn. They are 610g 00 or zero flour, 90g wholemeal or farro flour, and 8g dried yeast combined with 500ml room-temperature water. Those mixing via hand must combine the dried yeast with the two flours, then upload it to the water in a bowl. Once the mixture becomes a shaggy ball, turn it onto a floured board and knead in 12g quality salt and 15ml olive oil – dough scrapers are helpful here. The language of dough is brilliant and human; flour is alive, it wishes to be oxygenated, its mood varies depending on the time of the month, and it gets nervous if you work it too hard. Then, like several residing creatures, it needs relaxation. Andrea leaves his for four days inside the fridge, but my home model needs the handiest 12 hours, protected with clingfilm. I then put it off from the fridge hours before baking.
Positioning is the entirety. Unlike the various stalls selling road meals, Casa Manco is in the fruit and vegetable stalls, the butchers, and the wine the liter offers. Paola stores every day – Roman produce and culinary subculture meet her innovative cooking with roast tomatoes and pecorino, baked fennel and lemon, smooth cheese, smoked meat and prunes, and vegetables with anchovy, pine nuts, and raisins.