One of our fathers bought a pepper mill from a restaurant – Trattorio Cammillo – in Florence in the 1970s for around £20, no doubt after a delicious meal and a glass or two of wine. It must have left the manager with a smile on his face – and the risotto must have been really good.
Let’s be honest, be it a business trip or for leisure, one of the highlights of visiting any of Europe’s great cities is to try the food – especially in restaurants that have been around for generations.
Of all the clutter that seems to follow us around – from books to clothes and scratched LPs – it’s an item that will always be with us. And there’s something lovely about still using an item that a parent used all those years ago. And, just watching The Italian Job (filmed in Turin in 1969) gives a sense of what the country was like at the time.
The mill is a handsome beast, big enough to kill a midnight intruder. We’ve never quite mastered the spring-like mechanism which prevents peppercorns popping from its base like a torrent of mini rabbit droppings. Teeth fragments have been lost over time but just holding the thing makes dishes taste better.
Trattorio Cammillo is still there alongside the Ponte Vecchio and eagle-eyed readers can see exactly the same pepper mills on the tables, 35 years later.
All restaurants have to start somewhere, but the generations-old eateries that fill countries like Spain and Italy are special. Their pictures and paraphernalia, often caked with years of fireplace smoke, tell more stories than Barcelona or Rome’s newest and swankiest restaurant ever could.
Here’s a film of some ill-dressed blokes scoffing and singing in the restaurant (note the pepper mills).
© con jamón spain