It’s 11 a.m., nothing is left of the ‘matriciana except for some traces in the plates that have been almost perfectly wiped clean with bread (in Italian this operation is called scarpetta).

I look up and my eyes meet with Alessandro’s, a spark, a sequence shot by Sergio Leone materializes in the kitchen of the Odd Couple, the challenge is in our eyes: lunch-time is drawing nearer, what shall we eat?

The answer is looking at us; the translucent guanciale that has not been put back into the fridge speaks clearly: it calls out for gricia.
I wash the iron frying pan, because if it’s true that gricia is a primordial ‘matriciana then the treatment reserved will be the same: pan on the stove, guanciale cut so it has a section of fat and meat in every little brick and then into the frying pan until it becomes crunchy outside with a fondant heart, once again a Western movie scene, cow-boys preparing rations in a pan on the fire that sizzles loudly and gives off intense aromas.
The mezzi rigatoni shaped pasta (what else?) are cooking in abundant boiling water while I grate a plentiful amount of pecorino cheese in a serving bowl, adding a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and the ritual is almost complete.
While I drain the pasta, Alessandro removes the guanciale from the heat and places it on kitchen roll, then in a rapid sequence: put the pasta in the bowl to dress in pecorino, add the guanciale, stir away from the heat adding the fat left in the frying pan, which is still hot and sizzles while blending with the other ingredients as it trickles down the bowl, and to finish open your nose and breath-in all the joy.
We prepare two abundant portions, as we need to feed ourselves, we sprinkle some more grated pecorino and grind lots of black pepper, fork in one hand and glass of wine in the other: it’s a dirty job, but someone needs to do it.

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