It is not new that pasta and macaroni with meat sauce are two of the symbols of Italy and therefore the favourite dish of many Neapolitans. However, what is the hidden story behind that loved meal? The romantic Matilde Serao comes to our rescue, because she was able to explain the origin of macaroni with meat sauce. Let’s see what this is all about.

The story of Chico the Wizard

In 1220 in the Vico dei Cortellari there was a tall house, with small windows and dirty glasses. Those People passing in front of the building, were always praying to avert bad luck, because in the haunted house lived Chico the wizard.
Chico, was a man who rarely went out and people knowing his power feared him. Although, the women tried to obtain as much information as possible about him, they only knew that during the night he worked on magic works. In fact, Chico, wasn’t having much sleep, because of his studies spent in his room, moreover, from his fireplace never ceased to come out smoke, since he spent hours watching a boiling pot. Sometimes, in the night he would go out on the terrace, and the night owls watched him shaking his hands which some white dust came off, besides that according to the people it had the power to poison the air. It was said that his laboratory was full of red spots and there were knives of all kinds which he would cut something every night.

The magic of macaroni with meat sauce brought in the presence of the King

To discover the artifices of the magician was an canning young woman, Jovannella Canzio, who as soon as he discovered the nature of those magic, she took the opportunity to show off his knowledge in the presence of the king.
"Do you want to tell to the palace cook that I know such a new and exquisite dish that deserves the taste of the king?"

The new was reported to the king, who gave orders to invite the wife of the dishwasher to the palace to taste this new recipe. Jovannella made a mixture of flour, water, salt and eggs, and she worked out the dough for a long time until it was thin, then she cut it into strips and rolled them into small cylinders. Moreover, she also let them dry off with the sunlight. A part, in a saucepan she put the onion, meat and sauce which she let cook over a low heat.

At lunchtime, Jovannella boiled the cannelli and once they were cooked, she strained them and seasoned with sauce and a spoon of cheese.
Here it comes the famous recipe served to the King Federico di Svevia. The clever woman said that she was thought on how to make that recipe by an angel, step by step, in order to explain how she learned to cook such a good meal. The term maccaroni comes from macarus, which is a divine food. The king wanted his cook to learn that recipe and later on he gave her one hundred gold coins.
In a short time, the whole Neapolitan inhabitants ate the maccaroni, while Chico was desperate for the betrayal received, he decided to leave the city without ever coming back. The Justice never arrived for Chico the magician, but a legend tells us that sometimes, on Saturday night, in the house of the Cortellari the magician returns to cut his macaroni, while Jovannella stir the tomato sauce with a ladle and an evil spirit blows under the pot to fuel the fire.
we cannot say whether this discovery is diabolic or angelic, but it is certain that it made the happiness of the Neapolitans and became one of the emblems of Italy.

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