I was watching the most recent Iron Chef America, in which Bobby Flay competed against Sabrina Tinsley in Battle Fresh Beans (yawn). Tinsley’s an Italian chef, so I expected her to make pasta. About halfway through the show she rolled out what I thought would be squid ink tagliatelle, but she took each strip, folded it in half, and rolled it together in the palms of her hands to make short, thick ropes of pasta.
Host Alton Brown, seeing what she was making, yelled “priest chokers!” Tinsley confirmed that she indeed was making strozzapreti, which translates as “priest chokers.” She went on to explain that the pasta was from one of the communist areas of Italy (I didn’t realize Italian communists were relegated to one denominazione) where they didn’t like priests.
Lydia Bastianich – who applies the name to ricotta and spinach dumplings – has a different explanation:
According to an old tale, these delicious ricotta and spinach dumplings got their name when a gluttonous priest ate too many of them too quickly.
I prefer the more malevolent explanation; it reminds me of Diderot’s quote “Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.”
Here’s what the pasta looks like in a typical pesto preparation:
I think I’ll try making this soon. With a name like “priest chokers” it has to be good.