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Lo scarpariello (A Humble Pasta Dish Fit for a King)

Even though crime is the name of the game on Wednesdays, there's always plenty to learn that has nothing to do with crime and everything to do with culture.


This lesson refers to a mini-episode of I Bastardi di Pizzofalcone.



When Paolo and Lojacono are at Lojacono's favorite trattoria da Letizia for dinner, she brings them a pasta dish. How could we not mention it? It's called lo scarpariello.


Ecco qua lo scarpariello. -Grazie. -Prego.

Here is the "scarpariello." -Thanks. -You're welcome.

Caption 49, I Bastardi di Pizzofalcone - EP2 Rabbia

 Play Caption


When we see a long word ending in ello, there is a good chance it's an elaboration of a pre-existing word. Can you detect the noun scarpa in there? 


What do shoes have to do with pasta you might ask? Legend has it that the origins of this pasta dish be traced to the Quartieri Spagnoli ("Spanish" neighborhoods) of Naples, where shoemakers tended to reside, in earlier times. Although the Italian word for "shoemaker" is il calzolaio, lo scarparo is a regional (Southern) form of lo scarpaio, a variant of il calzolaio. Their day off — il giorno di riposo — was lunedì — Monday. So Monday was "leftovers day." The leftover pasta sauce from Sunday dinner was recycled to make a delicious pasta dish on Monday.


In addition, some of the ingredients, such as the pecorino or Parmigiano might have been given to the shoemaker in place of payment for shoe repair. But over time, as often happens with humble recipes, the dish has risen from its status as un piatto di recupero (leftovers) to a simple but elegant favorite, made with the simple, fresh ingredients available locally: pomodorini (cherry or other small-sized tomatoes), basilico (basil), peperoncino (chili peppers), aglio (garlic), and olio di oliva (olive oil) with the addition of grated pecorino romano and/or Parmigiano.


Here is a great and fun video recipe for this dish. Attenzione! Luca parla molto veloce (Luca speaks very fast) but he shows you what he is doing, which makes it easier to understand.



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