The Priest Strangler….
Strozzapreti is a pasta that means, literally, “choke the priest”. There are conflicting stories as to the origin of why it is called that. One story is that they were pasta made specially for the priests and it was so delicious that they ate too fast and it made them choke.
They also say that the women of the church would make these to cook for the priests, and their husbands, disgusted with their wealth, made them thick in an effort to choke the priests. Yet another story originates from the process of making them. They are cut from the dough and rolled with a twist to make a rope, but it also simulates choking someone. Finally, another story, which seems more plausible given the history of the Medici, is what I heard when I ordered them in Assisi.
The legend was that they made them on purpose to look like ropes to remind the lowly priests that they could, in fact, be choked to death. The papal state was one of the most powerful in the world. Choking a priest was commonplace. In fact, it may have even been another priest doing the choking. So much of the political power of the day was tied into the church that there were many, many ulterior motives. I’m telling you, research the Medici. Giovanni di Lorenzo de’Medici is a good place to start. He is better known as Pope Leo X. He died of malaria though, not choking.
Too bad. It would have made for a good story.
Strozzapreti are a hardy pasta that do well with sauces of some heft. The traditional sauce is what is known as a Beef Ragout. Rich with beef and tomatoes it holds its own against this pasta. You can make them with almost anything. Try them with pulverized walnuts, Romano cheese and truffle oil. They are also delicious with a cream based sauce. My favorite way is when they are served with a creamy sauce loaded with artichoke hearts. The symbolism isn’t lost on me. Artichokes….get it?
When pairing pasta with sauce, you want to have one over take the other. Pasta with crevices, or loops or twists are able to hold the sauce close to them. A lighter sauce is better paired with a pasta that won’t compete with it.
Try the Priest Stranglers. Just be sure to chew your food well. Don’t choke.