Vermicelli alla Sophia Loren: Rachel Roddy’s recipe for pasta with parsley pesto | A kitchen in Ro …

vermicelli alla sophia loren rachel roddys recipe for pasta with parsley pesto a kitchen in rome

The story starts with a pregnant woman stealing parsley from a garden. She gets caught by the owner, a furious ogress, who, as penance, makes the woman promise that one day she will hand over her child. The child is born, and beautiful, and named Petrosinella, the old Italian word for parsley. As she grows, her mother warns her to stay away from the ogress, but one day the ogress sees the child returning from school and grabs what she is owed, hiding Petrosinella in a tower in the woods. Climbing the tower using the girl’s long hair is the only means of entry for the ogress … but also for a prince.

The story of Petrosinella, also known as Prezzemolina (Little Parsley), is by the Neapolitan poet and courtier Giambattista Basile, although it wasn’t published until after his death, in a posthumous collection of fairy tales, Lo Cunto de li Cunti (The Tale of Tales), in 1634. Almost two centuries later, in 1812, the Brothers Grimm would note their admiration for Basile and publish Rapunzel, which is thought to come from Campanula rapunculus, the spinach-like plant the wife craves in the Grimms’ version of the story.

A century and a half later, in the autumn of 1968, Sophia Loren is a few months pregnant and in bed…

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