The Mythic Origins of Strozzapreti Pasta (Priest Stranglers)

Updated on May 20, 2017

A Pasta Named Strozzapreti

The word strozza in Italian means," to choke or strangle," and the word preti means "priests." To note, strozzapreti are included in the list of the most antique pastas, along with lasagne, vermicelli, spaghetti e maccheroni (mafalde, gnocchi, and tortellini).

Strozzapreti is a type of dried pasta typical of Italy, in particular from the area of Romagna in region of Marche. Pasta for the poor was made at home and consisted of simple ingredients, though this one called for skilled hands. The stretched out pasta was flattened with a rolling pin, cut into strips about 1-1.5cm long, cut into 5cm, and then formed by hand one at a a time. This type was smothered in rich sauce, usually a ragù.

The same pasta is made diversely in different zones of Italy. In Trentino, up north, the strangolapreti are gnocchi made with stale bread, spinach, egg, and a Trentinese grain, served with melted butter and sage. In Milano, they add a soft cheese to this recipe.

In Umbria, it's a elongated square-shaped pasta made from flour and water.

In Lazio, Rome area, the strozzapretti are spaghettoni cut by hand and lathered with a layer of tartufo, yum.

In the city of L'Aquila, they resemble thick cords made with semolina and are about 20cm long.

In the south, in Salento, they've become potato gnocchi, in Calabria, a gnocchi made with flour, egg and salt.

The most common recipes are made with:

  • crayfish sauce
  • asparagus and prosciutto
  • wild boar sauce
  • mushrooms and turkey
  • gorgonzola and shrimp

The name “strozzapreti” is used to indicate a pasta that puts one at risk of strangulation or suffocation when they eat it.

Crazy Name for Pasta & its Origins

It makes one think. The name of this pasta is supposed to have been handed down by way of myth from the Italian region of Emilia-Romagna. What arose from it were numerous stories, costumes, plays, recipes and jokes.

In a Neapolitan play from 700 A.D., we find the word macaroni-strozzapreti or macaroni-priest stranglers. In the play "Della Porta,"the character known as "La Sorella" (sister) exclaims, "Come on the master is awaiting you at the table with a plate of extraordinarily large macaroni that will strangle you as soon as it's put into your mouth."

There was another joke in another play called "La Tabernaria" that goes like this "Upon his return he found a table set with a plate of ravioli and macaroni stranglers."

Carola Francesconi in "La Cucina Napoletana" of 1977 tells us of a story taking place in the bad section of Naples, a gourmet and hungry priest eats an enormous hill of gnocchi excessively fast and he is suffocated.

The legends makes one think, did something really happen to the priests at the time? It makes you wonder if the name wasn't by accident. Strozzapretti (priest stranglers/chokers), came from pasta created to be very extensive in its length similar to the ropes used by anarchists to literally strangle priests.

Legends of Strozzapreti Conspiracy Against Priests

One of the legends created to explain the origin of the name of this past is reflected in the tradition of the Romagna women who prepared this "type" of pasta as an offer to the priests of the region. All the while, their husbands hoped the priests would choke as they gobbled up minestra. Graziano Pozzetto, expert in cooking in the Romagna tradition, suggests that the etymology of the name can be attributed to the thickness of the strozzapreti which served to tame hunger, so that even a priest would have been choked by it.

Another legend explains and confirms, that the name points to the buckle on a shoe that was made with a long curly leather they then used to strangle the priests in the days of the Pontifical State, when the people were in rebellion against the power of the church.

Another story tells of when a housewife or housekeeper was out of eggs, they'd set out to possess the priest by preparing pasta with only water and flour in hopes the priests would choke on the eggs they didn't have.

Questions & Answers

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      • Spanish Food profile image

        Lena Durante 

        18 months ago from San Francisco Bay Area

        That's hilarious, Jacqklin! I'm not sure I've ever noticed it at the grocery store, but now if I ever see it (on shelf or a menu) I'll think of this and have little giggle myself, thanks to you!

      • jacqklin profile imageAUTHOR

        jacqklin 

        18 months ago from ITALY

        Thank you Lena. It all started from a visit to wholefoods. I ended up laughing in an aisle alone because I could understand what the name of that pasta meant.

      • Spanish Food profile image

        Lena Durante 

        18 months ago from San Francisco Bay Area

        What a fascinating bit of food history! It's always so interesting to me how multiple stories arise around the origin of a dish or ingredient. It makes it hard to tell which one might be true, but it's a lot of fun to wonder!

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, delishably.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://delishably.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)