• Tue. Sep 27th, 2022

“Eating stones: myths, fairy tales and the Neapolitan recipe

ByChiara Casagrande

Nov 26, 2021

We all agree: a varied diet is good for your health, but isn’t it a bit extreme to go so far as to eat stones?
Well, apparently not. And I’m not just referring to fictional characters like Kronos, the mythical father of Zeus, or the wolf in Little Red Riding Hood.
In Naples, Italy, the home of pasta, there is a speciality that is prepared precisely with the addition of sea stones, Spaghetti alla Partenopea. Before we look at the recipe for this tasty dish together, let’s have a look at the stories in which the characters eat real stones!

Kronos: a not-so-loving father

Tolstoy says at the beginning of his wonderful historical novel Anna Karenina: ‘all happy families are the same, every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way’.
We can safely say that the Greek myths are an exact representation of this statement. The dynamics of the Olympian world and its preceding lineages present the characteristics of a family that could be described as ‘complicated’ to say the least. Let us start at the beginning: Kronos was born from the union of Uranus and Gaea, who in turn were generated by the primordial force of chaos, omnipresent and eternal. Uranus, “particularly in love” with his wife, continues to have relations with her without interruption: for this reason, Gaea is unable to give birth to the children conceived. Kronos, then, to free his mother from Uranus’ continuous abuse, emasculates his father and throws his penis into the sea.

At this point, Kronos becomes the god of the world and, after confining the other Titans in Tartarus, marries his sister Rhea. There is, however, a prophecy that hangs over Kronos like a sword of Damocles: his destiny is to be overthrown by one of his sons, just as he himself did with his father Uranus. For this reason, every time Rhea gives birth to a son, the titan eats the baby, still in swaddling clothes, convinced that he will be able to avoid his own defeat. One day, however, Rhea, tired of this terrible habit, deceives her husband: after giving birth to the baby Zeus, she hides her son in a cave and lets a goat take care of him. Instead of the baby, she wraps a large stone with a cloth and gives it to Kronos. He does not notice the difference and eats the stone, convinced that he is once again safe. But it is not so: Zeus, in fact, once grown up, will face his father, defeating him and becoming the father of all the gods.

Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf: The Deception of the Stones

We all know the story of Little Red Riding Hood, the little girl who brings a snack to her grandmother who lives in the woods. Leaving aside the considerations that any educator might make about this, namely how inappropriate it is to send a little girl out alone into the forest, this fairy tale relates to our theme today, namely the characters who ate stones.

Short recap: Little Red Riding Hood’s mum makes a bright red cape for her daughter, puts a basket full of goodies in her hand and sends her through the woods to bring a snack to her grandmother who lives in a little house in the middle of nowhere, as if she were a carrier pigeon. “Don’t talk to strangers, mind you.” Thanks for the thoughtfulness, Mum. Little Red Riding Hood sets off and of course what does she do? She talks to a stranger, specifically a wolf. She tells him all her business and jumps up and down towards her grandmother’s house. Here, instead of the old woman, he meets the wolf in his nightgown, but he doesn’t notice the switch. In the end, the wolf not only eats the granny, but also the girl. At this point, the inevitable “magical” helper of every self-respecting fairy tale arrives: the hunter, grandmother’s friend. The hunter understands what has happened and while the wolf is sleeping he opens his belly, pulls out the grandmother and the girl and together they fill the animal’s belly with stones. The wolf wakes up and “strangely” feels heavy (really?), so he decides to go for a walk to digest better. Surprise surprise, he dies of breathlessness and the hunter, grandmother and little girl have a snack together.

Spaghetti with sea stones: the Parthenopean recipe

After these rocky meals that could be described as macabre, let’s lift our spirits with a slightly more appetizing and tasty recipe: Spaghetti alla Partenopea, made by Peppe Guida, the real inventor of this recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 320 g Vermicelli (a type of pasta)
  • 4-5 stones and sea water
  • 20 cherry tomatoes
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic

Proceeding:

In a frying pan, brown the garlic in a few tablespoons of oil. Crush the cherry tomatoes by hand, rinsing them in sea water, and let them take heat in the oil. Pour the stones into the pan (they should be covered with the typical seaweed fluff), add a dash of fresh water and a few tablespoons of sea water (normal water is fine, especially if you don’t live near the coast).

As soon as the sauce has come up to temperature, drop the vermicelli directly into the pan and cook, adding water if necessary. When the pasta is well blended and creamy, divide it among the plates, finishing with a drizzle of oil.

As you can see, this is a very simple recipe to prepare, but one that will literally blow your guests’ minds!