The Vatican and Italian people have not always had an amicable relationship.

In the early 1600s, the Vatican’s reputation was one of greed and corruption. They used their power and spiritual influence to obtain a vast amount of wealth and did little to share it with the people. Through arbitrary taxation and endless amounts of collections for sin absolution, the church owned just about everything from roads to markets to taverns, while the common people had nothing. To make things worse, the clergymen had a reputation of mischief and power-abuse as well. They did the church’s dirty work–going from house to house asking for money, insisting on a feast filled with mountains of food and barrels of wine. The Italian people were fed up; exhausted from the gluttonous clerics taking their money, their meals, and seemingly their freedom. Something needed to be done and in true Italian fashion, the people fought back in one of the only ways they knew how- with pasta.     In Italian kitchens everywhere, especially in Northern Marche and Southern Romagna where the church was distinctly dominant, women created a dish designed to fight back the tyrannical papacy one dinner at a time: strozzapreti.

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Literally translated to “Priest Strangler,” strozzapreti is a long, thin, slippery noodle with twists and turns resembling a twisted hangman’s knot. They are made by rolling out a dough made of flour and water into thin strips, which are then carefully and meticulously stretched and twisted between skilled hands. The process for creating strozzapreti is extremely tedious and time-consuming. It is said that when the dish was prepared, with each knot the women would curse the clergymen, hoping each bite of pasta would be their last. As the noodles are slippery and oddly-shaped, they are considered a choking hazard, especially when consumed quickly and swallowed down without completely being chewed– as the insatiable priests were known to do.

The bolognese ragu easily clings to the twists and crevices of the noodles, making them even more irresistible to scarf-down. Lore says that many clerics met their fate at the hands of this dish, often with the fork still in hand.

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