There are classic ones and modern ones. Some people are sticklers for tradition whereas others are more adventurous. When it comes to suppli, there is a whole universe of flavour waiting to be discovered. This traditional Italian snack looks like a croquet and comes in different flavours, depending on the maker or region. The most traditional version can be found throughout Rome, generally served portare via (to take away) or as an aperitif, although it’s also fast becoming popular among revellers in need of revitalisation in the early morning hours. However, beware of imposters: suppli is a ball of rice with mozzarella in the middle, which is fried in breadcrumbs. Don’t be fooled by the Sicilian arancini or the Napolitano calzone.
“Suppli are often a good way to use up leftovers,” explains Juanan, webmaster of Cuuking.com. “They normally consist of cooked rice with cheese in breadcrumbs. The full name is suppli al teléfono because, when you break them in half, the mozzarella forms a string like a telephone cord,” he adds. The food guru explains that suppli are made by first cooking the rice and leaving it to cool. Then it is shaped into a ball with cheese in the middle, which is coated in breadcrumbs and fried until it’s golden and the cheese has melted. “In most places they are delicious but it’s always a good idea to stay away from tourist sites. Instead, explore the passageways and find a pizza shop or rotisserie where you will get better quality,” he recommends.
For Wibke Carter of Eatingitalyfoodtours.com, authentic suppli are made with giblets or scraps of chicken and cooked in tomato sauce. “Years ago there were suppli vendors walking around the streets of Rome at night, with a food warmer, yelling ‘Suppli!’ Up until the 50s, there was a famous suppli man named Polifemo. He had his corner in the center of Rome from which he barely ever moved, with an enormous pot of sizzling oil,” he explains. There are many twists on the formula and people often add their own ingredients, hence the name’s roots in the French word surprise. One thing’s for sure, though. If you ask any Italian who makes the best suppli, no matter how refined their tastes or how much of a purist they may be, the answer will always be the same: their grandmother.