Roberto Liberati owns one of Rome's great butcher shops. Located on the city's outskirts in the Tuscolano neighborhood, Bottega Liberati was started by Roberto's father in the 1960s. He became a center to delight customers with education as well great cuts of meat, including those raised on organic farms with a focus on treating animals with respect. He often posts on Facebook. I invited him to our kitchen to share some thoughts about his work.
Why did butchers, cooks loose touch with tradition?
I think it's a matter of cultural change and adaptation to new market trends.
How did you start as a butcher?
My father was a butcher, my grandpa a farmer, I got a bit of both!
I understand that you were you a vegetarian for a time.
Yes,I practiced macrobiotics for ten years for a while I started with two oriental disciplines, qi gong and tai chi chuan. when i took my first bite of meat after ten years I had like an epiphany..
Are we losing our control of what we eat today?
It's hard to answer this question. I think people will continue to act like sheep and be controlled. But there will always be a small bunch of "black sheep" that will fight to preserve a strong rooted tradition.
What about food tradition in Italy; is it disappearing and or being revived by a new generation?
In a small way there are a lot of people who want to raise from a cultural numbness and those people believe that tradition must be protected at all costs. Slow food has taught us and given us the means to work in the right direction.
What do you like to eat?
Any food that gives me a strong mental emotion.
Do you have some food heroes?
Yes. Gabriele Bonci is one of the strongest. Then others who exalt my work as cooks. There are not many but the few are extraordinary.
What do you do when your not being a butcher?
Apart from Facebook, relations with friends and loved ones. And at the moment I like photography, music, cinema, sometimes bicycling. Often I like to try to rest!
What is the origin of Roman cuisine 0 is it a mash up of all the regions?
I think Rome now has a strong tradition given by different influences and traditions.
Is there a spiritual relationship with the animals you butcher, like in traditional cultures of yesteryear?
Very important! For me that is a very important moment, to be respected. But what I care the most about is life more than the fast moment of transition. Personally I estrange myself from the "act" that becomes simply technique to let the animal suffer as little as possible.
I understand you like wine; what’s your favorite region or grape?
Piemont. Nebbiolo. Barolo. Then in any region where I've found terrific things even superior to my favorite region. Then year by year too many things change and it's always the emotion of the moment that exalts me.