Have you ever wondered why we have a type of pasta called Strozzapreti, which basically means “priests stranglers” ?
Despite this sinister translation from Italian, which makes these pasta twirls sound quite a dangerous thing to eat and not really very appealing, as you would imagine a pasta dish to be, Strozzapreti are indeed innocuous and really really delicious, if paired up with the right condiments and a good glass of wine.
Strozzapreti are an elongated form of hand-rolled pasta typical of central Italy, especially in the Emilia Romagna, Tuscany, Marche and Umbria regions.
According to Italian folklore, there has always been the idea that priests were people with a very voracious appetite, who lived a priviledged life, often to the detriment of the lower classes. In fact, the people, the working class, might have given this pasta such a name almost as if they were (not so) silently whishing to see a priest choke while eating that particular pasta. A bit mean? Maybe 😉
Another legend goes that wives would customarily make the pasta for churchmen as partial payment for land rents (In Romagna, the Catholic Church had extensive land properties rented to farmers), and their husbands would be angered enough by the venal priests eating their wives’ food to wish the priests would choke as they stuffed their mouths with it. The name surely reflects the diffuse anticlericalism of the people of Romagna and Tuscany.
Other people believe that this name comes from the shape of a shoe lace used to really strangle priests and members of the Church, during diffucult times where people didn’t look kindly upon them.
Last but not least there are people who think that the etimology of the word derives from the Greek verbs “straggalào”, or to roll, and “prepto”, which means to hollow out, as in fact that is what strozzapreti are, a rolled and hollow in the middle pasta.
Our favourite recipe for strozzapreti is the one we have in our menu in Jesmond – Strozzapreti Calabresi with Nduja (a spicy Calabrian sausage), “friarelli” broccoli, garlic, tomato sauce and some more chilli on top – you can never have too much chilli right? 😉
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