Giuseppe Topo, on Napoli Unplugged, November 16, 2012
Like the second part of Dante’s Divine Comedy.
Trapped between heaven and hell.
Uova in Purgatorio, Ova ‘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.
1 – 14 oz Can Peeled Tomatoes (or use your leftover Ragù)
1 Large or 2 Small Cloves Garlic, peeled and halved
Salt and Pepper
“This is a recipe for a 9 layer cake – a play on the 9 circles of hell in Dante’s Inferno. While that cake is representative of hell it tastes positively divine.” –Dan Lipkowitz
“As a teenager, I fell in love with Dante’s Inferno, it paired nicely with the nine levels of hell in my dark, twisty, 16 year old, angst filled little mind. Make that a dramatically romantic, angst filled little mind. I’m an over achiever.
“I’ve read it countless times since, each time finding comfort in the rhythm of the words, moments of beauty contrasted in an intricately woven dark world. Of course it’s a love story, and what’s not to love about love…food is love after all.” [. . .] –Jessica, Positively Ravenous, March 14, 2011
Contributed by Dan Lipkowitz (Bowdoin ’14)