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Apulian Cooking
Maritati with fresh breadcrumbs Fresh bread crumbs, grated and fried, with anchovies for a simple, mouth-watering dish.
Different names for maritati, in the various parts of Puglia but the same meaning: sex
by Dario Ersetti
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Maritati with fresh breadcrumbs. Photo by Dario Ersetti

This is a typical dish of the Murge, and features fried breadcrumbs, which are common all over Lucania. Completely different than normal dried breadcrumbs, the grated crumbs of fresh bread really give dishes a special character.

There is a similar dish in Veneto, in the area of Bassano del Grappa: Bigoli in salsa.Bigoli are a sort of fat spaghetti made with a special pasta press,simply dressed with salted anchovies dissolved in oil. What the dish lacks is the typically southern imaginative touch of addingfried breadcrumbs.

As for the pasta, maritati are a mixture of orecchiette and minchiareddhi. And while on the subject of names, Lecce’s maritatibecomerecchiemaritate in Bari and cagghiubbi in Brindisi, while minchiareddhi are shorter maccaruni. And since we’re talking about curiosities, Nora Galli de’ Paratesi, in her Le brutte parole - semanticadell’eufemismo(Bad words - the semantics of euphemism), claims that the word minchia derives from the Latin mentula crossed with the Sicilian mingere(urinate). The term minchia in the sense of penis is used all over southern Italyand its diminutive minchiareddhi seems to be linked to the shape and size of the pasta. If we then give orecchiette a female sense, considering its shape, we have the explanation of the term maritati.

 

 

The recipe

 

  4 servings:

 

- 400 g of maritati

- 6 salted anchovies

- 1/2 glass of extra-virgin olive oil

- 2 handfuls of crumbs from fresh grated bread

- 1 clove of garlic

- salt

- pepper

 

In oil, cook garlic in a pan till golden then remove it and, off the fire, dissolve the desalted and debonedanchovies in the oil, stirring with a wooden spoon. In another pan brown the breadcrumbs in oil.

Cook the pasta in boiling salted water, drain and dress with the anchovy oil. Sprinkle with the breadcrumbs and serve with plenty of pepper. As for salt, what is left in the anchovies should suffice.

Nothing can be left out of this truly minimalist recipe, though something could possibly be added, very sparingly. In summer, a few cubes of raw tomato will give the dish a very fresh “summery” feel, without making it lose its character. In winter, a bit of boiled greens such as broccoli.

 

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