There are many times when I go searching for the historical backgrounds of classic dishes. Most of the time I’m fascinated; other times I am simply bewildered. Discovering the sordid past of Puttanesca was one of those times.
puttanesca /ˌpo͞otəˈneskə /
a pasta sauce, traditionally including tomatoes, hot pepper flakes, garlic, olives and anchovies :pasta puttanesca
This sauce’s origin is, of course, Italian though the meaning behind the title is unusual. “Puttanesca” is derived from the italian word “puttana” meaning prostitute. The classic Napolese preparation was created as a luring device by harlots. The women could prepare the sauce quickly and it’s tantalizing aroma would serve in drawing customers into the brothel. The men would be served a bowl of spicy pasta while they awaited their turn.
In spite of its less-than-noble past, Puttanesca is highly praised, not only for its vibrant flavors, but also for the simple elegance of its preparation.
I could care less about how this dish came about - - I’m just happy it did.