With origins in Campania, Italy, this pasta’s name (Ziti), is the plural form of Zito which translates to ‘bride’ or ‘groom’ in the Sicilian dialect.
If we were to ask you, which dish do you most associate with Indian weddings, you would probably say Paneer Makhani or Butter Chicken, depending on your liking for Vegetarian or Non-Vegetarian food. Wedding food in India is usually full of regional delicacies. It is the same case with Italy. Pasta is synonymous with the cultural threads of Italy and if you were to ever attend a wedding in Sicily, you would be served with a tubular pasta called Ziti. So what is Ziti? Visually similar to the Bucatini and Penne pasta, Ziti is a pasta variety that is long, wide and shaped like a tube. It is around 25 cm in length and needs to be broken manually in to smaller bits before it is cooked. Ziti are thicker than Bucatini pasta and longer than the Penne pasta. With origins in Campania, Italy, this pasta’s name (Ziti), is the plural form of Zito which translates in to ‘bride’ or ‘groom’ in the Sicilian dialect.
Why is Ziti served at wedding feasts in Italy?
There is a popular legend that does the round at family lunches in Italy, when the conversations turn in to interesting stories around the dining table. According to the legend, Ziti was originally called ‘Zite,’ which came from the word Zitelle meaning a single woman. So this variety of pasta was served at Italian weddings because it signified the change of the bride from a zitelle (single woman) to a wife. This is how the Ziti pasta found its way to the bridal banquets. With the turn of time, the word Zite changed to Ziti, which is the plural form of the word wife. But apart from that, the baked Ziti pasta is a sumptuous and filling meal that pairs very well with heavy meatier sauces like bolognese. This makes it a great addition to wedding meals. Did you know a superstition regarding wedding seating arrangements in Italy involves making sure that any seating arrangement that’s made at weddings, doesn’t have a table set of 13 seats together as that is considered ominous and reminiscent of the Last Supper?
Did you find it odd that Ziti is broken by the hand prior to being cooked? It’s after all poor eating etiquette to break the pasta with your hand before eating. However, Ziti is an exception to this rule. Just like all other beautiful Italian lore around food, this exception too has a back story to it. The Ziti pasta, apart from being served at weddings, is served at festivals and big family get togethers in Italy. In the olden days, women of the family (in Italian households), used to get together as per custom and perform the ritual of ‘breaking’ this pasta for lunch. This would help them to cook this heavy body pasta faster for their families. This old tradition stuck and still continues in some Italian households, till date. The children of the house love participating in this ritual as well, and find it fun. By following this ritual, everyone gets to be a part of making the delicious pasta lunch that they would soon be devouring.
Are you intrigued learning about this pasta? Try out a recipe involving the use of Ziti from here.