Food - Drink
How Puglia's Spaghetti All'assassina Got Its 'Killer' Name
BY WENDY LEIGH
Each region of Italy has its unique food specialties, such as carbonara and cacio e pepe from Rome and pasta alla Norma from Sicily. The city of Bari in the southern region of Puglia adores a lesser-known "killer" pasta that spins tales of history, mystery, and downright deliciousness: spaghetti all’assassina, meaning "killer spaghetti."
Two word-of-mouth origin stories for the name spaghetti all'assassina include a chef who neglected his pasta until the whole thing burned (thus “killing” it) and the "killer" spices in the dish that set many a tongue on fire. Apulian cuisine historian Felice Giovine claims that the first recipe was found in an abandoned rotisserie in the 1960s.
Today, spaghetti all'assassina isn't burned till inedible, but prepared like risotto: slowly cooked in a pan with a flavorful tomato broth that is replenished as the pasta absorbs it. La Cucina Italiana says that the pasta should sizzle and caramelize as it's tossed and turned in the pan until al dente for a crispy, spicy, smoky pasta that's truly killer.