If you think Italian sounds funny to your ears, well… sometimes it is weird even for Italians! Strozzapreti, for example, is a shape of pasta which literally means “that which chokes priests”.
The word might come from the Greek verbs straggalào (to roll) and prepto (to hallow out), mixed together to form the noun strangulapriévete, a kind of long gnocchi typical of the area around Napoli. According to another interpretation, the name of this pasta comes from the particular way in which it’s brutally cut, or better, the long line of fresh pasta is ‘strangled’.
It seems plausible but, of course, Italian folklore prefers the choking idea, considering that this particular twisted pasta might be a bit difficult to swallow. That’s all well and good, but why the priests? Throughout the Italian Middle Ages (as indeed later), the Church was a powerful entity, not rarely hated due to high taxes and strict practices. Moreover, priests were famous for being incredibly gluttonous, often at the expense of the poor in the countryside.
According to one legend, the women of Emilia-Romagna used to prepare this kind of pasta and offer it to the village priest, while their husbands, taking a much more anti-clerical position, wanted him to choke on his supper. Whilst another story justifies the lack of eggs in this kind of pasta: women used to prepare it without them because the local priest had greedily taken them all. Therefore, the poor Italian massaie (housewives) were hoping he would choke on those eggs while they prepared this simple pasta for their family. A slightly different version has them preparing such delicious pasta for the priest to have during his unwanted visits so that he would eventually choke on it. We couldn’t but finish with another dark explanation: strozzapreti are similar to a kind of shoe string, made of curled leather, which was often used to strangle priests during that time when an anti-clerical position was quite popular.
Anyway, these are just kitchen stories… we don’t want you to choke on our strozzapreti! On the contrary, we believe they’re perfect for you to enjoy our traditional organic Emilian ragù: thanks to their twisted shape, every single bite will be a unforgettable harmony of sauce and pasta.