Eggs in Purgatory


Giuseppe Topo, on Napoli Unplugged, November 16, 2012

Fried eggs.
Like the second part of Dante’s Divine Comedy.
Trapped between heaven and hell.

Uova in PurgatorioOva ‘mpriatorio in Neapolitan, or Eggs in Purgatory, this could only be a Neapolitan dish.

Taking its inspiration from Il culto delle anime del Purgatorio, the cult of the Souls of Purgatory, this classic “secondo” comes directly from the pages of Cucina Povera Napoletana. And it is symbolic of the Neapolitan preoccupation with purgatory and the ancient cult that worships anonymous human remains. A tradition that endures in places like the 17th century Santa Maria delle Anima del Purgatorio ad Arco Church in Centro Storico and the Fontanelle Cemetery in Rione Sanità in the scenes of purgatory depicted in the shrines Neapolitans are fond of erecting around the city. And in this culinary rendition of the tradition, where the eggs play the role of souls seeking purification, the sauce, that of the flames of purgatory.

The eggs bubble away in the sauce until the whites are completely cooked, or perhaps we should say, purified. And one can only guess that like the milk from the Virgin’s breast, the breaking of the yolks into the sauce symbolises the extinguishing of the flames. Ouva in Purgatorio, a simple and economical dish that packs a lot of flavour and recalls a tradition that lives on in the hearts and the minds of the Neapolitan people.

Ingredients
1 – 14 oz Can Peeled Tomatoes (or use your leftover Ragù)
4 Eggs
1 Large or 2 Small Cloves Garlic, peeled and halved
Olive Oil
Parsley
Salt and Pepper