Strozzapretti, the priest strangling pasta

The design of the strozzapreti pasta was carefully constructed: thick, chewy, and just long enough for a ravenous clergy member to easily choke on.


Strozzapreti might look innocent enough – on the surface, it’s just another type of Italian pasta. However, this unassuming food has a dark untold history.

The medium-sized corkscrew-shaped pasta noodles were created not only for scooping up those last bits of sauce, but also for suffocating gluttonous Catholic priests. Yes, you read that right.

Strozzapreti literally translates to “priest stranglers,” and was developed hundreds of years ago by peasants in Italy who hated the Catholic priests.

The Papal States of Italy were ruled by the Catholic Church

The Catholic Church was all-powerful during this time period.

Caustic Catholicism

The plan to murder priests with pasta reportedly dates back to the 1600’s, when Italy was ruled by the notorious Papal States.

At the time, the Catholic Church controlled most aspects of daily life. The church owned everything – roads, bridges, shops, taverns – even the forests and mountains! Nothing escaped the influence of the powerful clergy who represented the church.

With no ruling authority to control them, the local priests and bishops raised taxes on the citizenry non-stop, claiming the payments would rectify their sins. But the reality was striking: the church and its constituents lived in lavish luxury, while the farmers and artisans they taxed into oblivion suffered.

A Murderous Idea Emerges

These corrupt holy men of the time were not only hungry for power, they were hungry in the traditional sense, too.

The clergy would often descend into the villages, demanding feasts be prepared for them. The villagers would begrudgingly oblige, and would set about preparing food and drink. But they did so with intense resentment, and wanted some way to fight back against the unfair system.

Afraid of the backlash they and their families might suffer, the peasants had to be crafty in their attempts at vengeance. Thus was born the idea for an unsuspecting murder weapon: pasta.

The design of the strozzapreti pasta was carefully constructed: thick, chewy, and just long enough for a ravenous clergy member to easily choke on. The poor village housewives made the pasta by hand, silently praying curses into each twist of the dough.

It was not uncommon to shape the pasta in the form of a hangman’s knot, increasingly the likelihood it would get stuck in the throat of some greedy priest who neglected to chew his food properly. If the legends are to be believed, every so often the strategy would work. The unsuspecting priest would find themselves suddenly unable to breathe, their face would turn beet-red, and they would die right there at the table.

A dish of Strozzapreti pasta

Pasta for the Ages

As time progressed, the anti-clergy sentiment grew stronger and stronger. As Italy fell victim to civil strife, its citizens fought to rid themselves of the bedeviled clergy and their incessant corruption.

At the height of this anti-clergy sentiment, strozzapreti took on a new meaning – it was the name given to the knotted leather belts used by bandits and outlaws to assault priests they had hunted down.

Want to Try Some “Priest Stranglers”?

Visiting Italy today, you’ll see little trace of the hatred the Italian people once had for corrupt holy men. However, if you’re feeling adventurous, head into a local restaurant and order the strozzapreti – a relic of the Italy’s complicated religious past in pasta form. Just make sure to chew your food carefully!

P.S. – With this revelation in mind, translating the menu at an Italian restaurant can prove an entertaining activity. You may be given the opportunity to order such savory entrées as “Strangled Bishops with fresh lemon juice” or “Strangled Bishops with sun-dried tomato and basil.”

 

17 comments

  1. John Owens says:

    This is hilarious and totally understandable. The clergy can be disgusting and the people tend to allow it. Of course after the Council of Nicea the Emperor was behind them, and it pretty much stayed that way up until the present. You know the RCC is pretty much an image of the Roman government, don’t you? That would make it the image of the beast. The nuns were a carryover of the “vestal virgins” of pagan rite, and there is so much Babylonianism in the RCC and its sisters and daughters (she is mother of harlots and abominations of the Earth) that it is no marvel the priests robbed from the “laity” (a term I despise) and committed all manner of atrocities against them. I think it perfectly fitting that they strangle to death, at least the worst of them. The very idea that mortal man can be vicar of Christ is sickening.

  2. Barry says:

    Simple yet effective idea !

  3. rabbi jim says:

    What a glorious invention. Keep up the good work!!!

    1. Ben says:

      lol that’s a good one rabbi shalomo.

  4. Re. Nancy Willingham says:

    Is there any major religion without dark spots in it’s history? And what, exactly, is the spiritual benefit of dwelling on them?

    1. John Owens says:

      I don’t think there is any benefit in DWELLING on them, Nancy. I DO think they should be remembered from time to time, though, to better inform us of what to watch for in the present. A very large portion of our populace willingly closes their eyes to history AND to the present, selectively, in order to remain believers in whatever it is they believe.

  5. Lilly says:

    That’s like those gluten free hippies today that make fake body of Christs for Holy Communion. I’m so glad the Pope put them in their granola place for trying to trick people into not actually being saved. Jesus’s body had gluten in it. Period!!

    1. Guairdean says:

      You are quite correct. Everyone knows that people who suffer from a digestive disorder are beyond Christ’s redemption and deserve the tortures of hell. Of course, those who suffer from Celiac Disease describe the gastric distress suffered after even small amounts of gluten as closely resembling some of the tortures promised by the church. On a separate note, I’m curious to hear why transsubstantiation only works on gluten based wafers. I would have thought that God could work that little miracle on just about anything. I guess omnipotence has its limits.

      1. Pat says:

        I have celiac disease with IBS-D; I had it for at least 5 years before Sloan-Kettering diagnosed it. As a result, I have refractory celiac disease–I am asymptomatic despite being very stringent in observing my diet. I have a difficult time absorbing nutrients. My husband was born in Italy, and had a horrible time convincing him that my symptoms are REAL, and not because I want attention.
        Talk about the villagers and the pasta…my MIL would feed me supposedly “home made” dishes, and every holiday I’d be sick. The final straw was the Christmas she mixed regular and GF pasta, and I refused to eat it. She started to cry when I would not eat, in front of her entire family sitting at the table.. To this day I will not eat ANYTHING she cooks, nor will I spend a holiday with them.
        I have not taken Communion in 15 yrs. Even taking wine makes me ill; as a result, I rarely drink alcohol. Our Church refuses to use rice wafers.
        Even if water was put in a cup, my immune system is so shot I cannot risk being exposed to others’ illnesses.
        The eldest of my sons was diagnosed with celiac disease with IBS-C 4 yrs ago. He is also lactose intolerant.
        The youngest has ulcerative colitis.
        The three of us are certainly not going to hell; we were made in the image of God, and we live our lives right. A shame people are so very shallow that they cannot make a small concession to help their fellow man.

    2. Leslie Henry says:

      Actually, Lilly, Christs body likely DID NOT have gluten in it. The grain of the day was spelt, and it was very different from today’s wheat. In the last couple thousand years, spelt has been tinkered with, bred, and re-bred to produce today’s wheat, and it is essentially a GMO. I would suggest a bit less vitriol, and a bit more tolerance of those with different beliefs than ours. I believe Jesus would agree.

    3. Jamie Bull says:

      Fake body of Christs? Wake up, they’re all fake. It’s bread.

    4. John Owens says:

      This little thread is kinda funny, but may be sacrilege. Just saying.

  6. Re. Nancy Willingham says:

    In the middle ages the Pope was also the king of a Catholic country, which was a huge mistake and has been corrected. Men became priests in order to acquire power and money, hence all the abuses. Today, I believe young men are drawn to the priesthood for purely altruistic reasons, but some of them lose their way. The vow of celibacy is a very large part of that problem and it is something the church could and should correct. Another element is the secular priests who do not belong to a religious order, but make vows of obedience to the bishop. In contrast, in men’s religious communities, like Dominicans and Franciscans, the monks or brothers can also become priests, but they are still bound by the rules of the order, vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, and remain subject to their superiors and part of their religious community. Most of the sexual and financial scandals involved secular priests, not the ones who are part of a religious order. So, the Church seems to have painted itself into a corner with the priesthood, just as it has with some other issues, like birth control and wheat wafers. Some of the prior posts on these issues express anger. And their reasons are sound. After Jesus angrily drove the money changers from the temple, he set about healing the sick. Let us follow his example.

    1. John Owens says:

      Amen, Nancy!

  7. Frederick Vobbe says:

    Many years ago a childhood friend’s family owned an Italian restaurant. Johnny, (my friend), worked in the restaurant with his other sisters, brothers, mom, and dad. The restaurant was what you would picture in a gangster movie where men in $1,000 suits would come in with brief cases and walk directly to the kitchen without saying anything. Once I asked who they were, and Johnny quickly said, “You didn’t see nobody.” OK, point taken.

    Anyway, John’s mom was a hoot. When you ordered the special spaghetti and meatball dinner she would watch you. If you didn’t eat all the food she would ask, “Is something wrong? Why you no eat? Tell me, does it taste OK? Did I do something wrong. You can tell me!” Even if you we full you full, you would find some way to choke down the last few bites.

    HOWEVER, God forbid you ever cleaned your plate! If you did, she was at your table saying, “ You didn’t get enough?” Then she would yell, “Johnny, get this guy another special, and hurry!” And within a minute another helping of spaghetti and four large meatballs in a decadent sauce would appear on your table, with bread sticks.

    There was no winning. You either felt bad that you were not eating, or you were being stuffed to capacity.

    As my old man ran a competing German grocery and deli, I always felt “the family” were out to kill me with heart disease.

    Pastor Fred

  8. Mystic Angel says:

    My spidey senses tell me that there was more in the pasta and the pasta ISN’T what killed the priests. Rat poison anyone??

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