Scapece marinated zucchini
“Scapece” Zucchini is a typical side dish of Neapolitan tradition, served mostly in summer. Though it may be instinctive to think so, actually there wasn’t a Mr. Scapece (whose first name was maybe Gennaro). who invented this delicious dish, whose origins are instead steeped in history and have travelled the oceans of time to come unchanged to us today. The first sources attribute this dish to a Latin chef, known as Marcus Gavius Apicius, who killed himself shortly before the end of the reign of Tiberius. Subsequent evaluations, however, have drawn attention to the domination of Naples by the Bourbons. Escabeche, a Spanish term in fact indicates any food that is marinated in vinegar after cooking, and would be the word that gives this famous recipe its name. In Naples, however, we like to remember one of the most exhilarating scenes of all the films of the great Totò. In “Il turco napolitano (The Neapolitan Turk) Don Carluccio, the emblem of the Neapolitan paper tiger or would-be tough guy, refers to "cocozzielli sott'aceto" as the "food that the groom dislikes" for the organization of a wedding buffet that would never be celebrated. And these "cocozzielli sott'aceto" are in fact the Scapece Marinated Zucchini we are talking about, so appreciated by modern Neapolitans to have become a sort of symbol. Often in Naples, we hear the slang expression scapeciare, which refers to process by which these zucchini are prepared. It looks like a simple recipe, but that impression is somewhat deceiving. The first essential element is the choice of zucchini, which must be firm and striped, suitable for frying - the classic Neapolitan kind. These zucchini need to be dried out a bit before being fried. Our grandmothers used to leave them in the sun for a couple of hours, on white kitchen towels – the linen dowry cloths, present in every home. Then, fried in olive oil, they were seasoned with vinegar, garlic, mint, and a little oil from the frying pan. This last step makes the majority of people hesitant. In fact, after frying, any additional oil is superfluous. However, we are nostalgic about these flavours from the past, when one’s only worry was whether the zucchini had dried well under a sun that did not burn, and little moments of happiness were able to cure every evil.