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World Pasta Day,part 1 (or Eat pasta Like a Local in Venice)

Posted in cucina, entertaining, Holidays, Uncategorized, and Venice

bigoli.jpgcopyright, 2008, Maria Liberati

Editor-Michaela Pompeo 

It only figures that the Italians would invent a Holiday to honor their most revered of foods..PASTA..So one of my favorite Holidays has become World Pasta Day. This year it is on October 25th. In honor of this  being one of my favorite holidays and a day set aside to worship one of my favorite foods I will be highlighting some facts from some of the Pasta conferences (yes that is right conferences on pasta!!) that I have attended in Italy and of course some recipes too!

If you have ever been to Venice or want to experience Venice in your own kitchen, here is a local pasta recipe that originated in Venice, it is interesting and certainly different than the regular pasta with a tomato and parmigiano cheese topping. Try this and  get a taste of Venice in your own kitchen.  Oh.. and by the way if you can’t find  Bigoli pasta- although some gourmet stores may carry them, try a perciatelli or thicker spaghetti instead.

As everybody knows, there are many different types of pasta, enough to allow a great variety to Italian daily meals.

Bigoli, (in Venetian dialect they are called bigoi), is one of them: they look like spaghetti, long and thin, but they are empty inside. Their diameter is 2-3 millimetres and they are about 20-25 millimetres long. There is a special machine that makes a long ‘hole’ inside them. They are typical of the whole Veneto region and they are especially eaten with a fish-based sauce (in salsa as the name of the recipe says) during the period of Lent. For Catholics, to keep Lent meant in the past to fast every Friday. Nowadays, it means not to eat any kind of meat on Fridays. That’s why fish is used instead. And no wonder that, since Veneto looks on to the sea (let alone Venice!), fish is something always present in its cuisine.

Apart from the traditional in salsa they can be served with many kinds of sauces. The ones prepared in Vicenza, for example, in duck sauce (bigoi co l’arna= bigoli con sugo d’anatra), are very famous. The dough is made with flour, butter, eggs and milk. These last two ingredients have been added quite recently to make the dough softer; of course in the past, when milk and eggs were expensive, they made it with only flour and some butter.

A variety of bigoli is the ‘black one’ (bigoi neri). To give them their black colour there are two ways: either you use whole wheat flour in the preparation of the dough (in this case the colour is really brownish, rather than black) or you add nero di sepia (= sepia): black indeed!!!!

So, if you want to prepare delicious bigoi in salsa, this is what you have to do (first you’ll have to buy a packet of them! Impossible to make them at home because you would need a special tool to make the hole inside them!):



1 onion

1 clover of garlic

4 or 5 salted anchovies

2 or 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

pepper to taste.


Chop the onion and garlic very finely. Put the oil in a frying pan and when it starts boiling throw the chopped onion and garlic and immediately lower the heat. On a very gentle heat let them cook for about half an hour, so that they can soften without burning. In the meantime, bone the anchovies and rinse them thoroughly under running water so that they will lose most of their ‘too salty’ taste. Add them to the onion and garlic in the frying pan and, with the help of a fork, press them till they almost ‘melt’ into the sauce. Cook for about 5 minutes: the sauce should look brownish in colour and its taste should be a balanced mixture of salty (from the anchovies) and sweet (from the onion).

Cook bigoli in abundant salty boiling water and strain them. Add the sauce, some pepper and serve very hot.


“Mangia Bene, Vivi Bene”


For more great recipes get your copy of the best selling book The Basic Art of Italian Cooking at or now available as an ebook at http://


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