Stringozzi seems like the perfect pasta to make on April 15th and here’s why. The name stringozzi comes from the Italian word stringhe (fpl), meaning laces as in shoelaces or strings because of its shape, a thick round ribbon. A more colorful version of the pasta’s name links it to the word strangozza, a cord used by medieval peasants who in protest to a Papal tax on salt levied during the 1540 Guerra del Sale (Salt War) in Perugia attacked tax collectors in the streets and tried to strangle them with their shoelaces.
Similar to thick rolled spaghetti, or a Tuscan pici, Umbrian stringozzi has a toothsome flavor that goes well with a full-bodied tomato sauce or meat ragu or sliced truffles or . . . simply dressed with herbs, garlic and buttery olive oil.
Discovered torta al testo at the home of my Umbrian friends. A delicious soft flatbread cooked on a hot terracotta stone or in an iron pan called a testo. It is traditionally made in an open fire giving it an addictively smoky flavor. Totally satisfying, torta al testo can be eaten on its own, like any other bread, or with cured meats like prosciutto and coppa di testa (Umbrian head cheese).
Simple water, flour and salt (some recipes call for olive oil or a little yeast) are all that is needed to make a bread that is believed to date back to the Romans and ancient Etruscans. Modern versions are cooked on a stovetop but nothing compares to the flavor and slightly charred appearance of a torta al testo placed directly over the coals left from a wood fire.
The tablescapes of the Italian tavola can be as rustic as a rural casa colonica or as refined as a Renaissance villa. The evocative colors, textures and patterns of Italian linens are the artistic canvas for the diverse styles of Italian place settings that range from the ceramics of Gubbio, Deruta and Montelupo to the elegant designs of Arte Italica. Known for both functionality and beauty, Italian linens have an extraordinary variety and depth of color that is unequalled. The most famous centers for weavers were Florence, Siena and Anghiari in Tuscany and Montefalco in Umbria.
Umbrian linens share tables with wine glasses of Sagrantino as hand-made ceramic espresso cups and coffee mugs of Italian Maiolica (also known as “majolica”), with the characteristically unique designs of Umbrian ceramics, bring your meal to a perfect ending.