We love Pasta
Pasta is a fundamental existence on the Italian’s table, it is a precious silent advisor for the most important decisions. A faithful ‘friend’ who is ready to be enjoyed and shared with loved ones in our happier moments and to give us comfort in the sad times. Pasta needs to be handled with love and attention. If she feels ignored, it takes only one minute for her to take her revenge on us and ruin our day.
“Maccarone” to who?
So many have tried to claim themselves to be the founders of pasta; Etruscans, Romans, Greeks and even the Chinese. Genuinely the first proof of her existence came from Arabic Sicily in 1154. The Arabians brought her to the island for the first time. Al-Idrisi, the founder of modern geography, told us about her preparation while watching a group of farmers from Trabia, a village near Palermo. At the time she was used to being cooked in the oven.
The wide spread of pasta as we know it today is possible thanks to the transition from baking to boiling. In fact, due to their long travels in the desert, Arabians preferred to feed themselves with boiled pasta as it preserved better. While they travelled to the north of Sicily and upwards through Italy, Arabians spread the word across the land of this wonderful versatile food, resulting in the development of tiny artisanal pasta factories, not only in Naples and Genoa, but also in Tuscany and Apulia.
It is us, the Campanians who own the land of the ‘maccherone’.
We discovered the legend of the nickname ‘Mackarone’, used in the Cava de’ Tirreni around the year 1000. This town, also known as the town of porticos, will be one of our next destinations in our diary.
The word ‘ Mackarone’ was used to indicate a foul individual, the meaning is still kept alive in Neapolitan tradition. A victim of the vagueness of this term was, some centuries after, Giacomo Leopardi, the poet, who accused the Neapolitan community to be “innamorato de maccheroni suo” [to be in love with their maccheroni]. The statement rose the reaction of the Neapolitan poet Gennaro Quaranta who answered in verses to Leopardi from Recanati: “Oh, mai non rise quel tuo labbro arsiccio/ né gli occhi tuoi lucenti ed incavati/ perché…non adoravi i maltagliati,/ le frittatine all’uovo ed il pasticcio!” [“Oh, never ever laughed your inflamed lips/ not even your eyes shining and sunken/ because... you were not used to adore the maltagliati/ the frittatine all’uovo and the pasticcio”].
We delight in imagining that they would have solved their dispute in front of a nice dish of maccheroni with ragù sauce.
We are “mangiaspaghetti” (spaghetti eaters), so what?
Totò used to love her in his film ‘Miseria e Nobilta’; he filled his pockets with kilos of spaghetti hoping it would never finish: the Italian actor Alberto Sordi playing the character of an eccentric American in ‘‘Un Americano a Roma" tried to give in, but he surrendered in front of an alluring dish of spaghetti. Also Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, founder of the Futurist Movement, lashed out with his “Manifesto contro la pastasciutta”. He also, within a few days after the pubblication of this j’accuse, was seen eating a smoking dish of pastasciutta in a restaurant in Milan. From here the saying “Marinetti dice basta/ messa al bando sia la pasta./ Poi si scopre Marinetti/ che divora gli spaghetti” [Marinetti says stop/ban the pasta./Then it was discovered Marinetti had devoured the spaghetti].
It is even said that Thomas Jefferson, 3th president of the United States of America, imported her to the USA after having eaten her during his travels in Italy.
The truth is that we can’t really live without her, the pasta. We love her. She makes us always feel at home, even if we are on the other side of the world. She will always be our landmark, what represents us.
We would love to continue talking about her goodness, but as you know, it’s lunch time and we really need to go. The maccheroni is ready and good food, good meat, good God, Let’s eat! See you next time.
Chef Pasquale Torrente's recipe
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