The bigoli [BEE-goh-lee] are a type of Venetian fresh pasta. They are long like spaghetti (maybe a little longer, actually) but thicker. The legend tells that they were invented in 1604 by a pasta maker of Padua whose nickname was Abbondanza (meaning Abundance)… Well, probably because he ate a lot of bigoli!
Bigoli al torchio at a sagra
The recipe varies but usually includes flour, eggs, salt and water. The main feature of bigoli is their roughness, which allows them to retain the sauces. This roughness is due to the use of a traditional machine for pressing the dough, the torchio (in fact you can often hear people calling them bigoli al torchio), nowadays mostly automatically initiated but in some lucky cases still activated by hand. At a few of village festivals (sagre), you can see brave volunteers in action under the eyes of the guests: for the whole duration of the dinner they put the dough in the torchio and and arrange for it to be transformed in delicious bigoli. One of these festival is in Limena, near Padova, in April. There’s always a long long line to eat!
In the whole Veneto region you can find trattorias and restaurants offering bigoli. The most beloved and traditional ways to eat them are two: in salsa (with sardines, which actually I do not like very much) or with ragù d’anatra (duck sauce). The latter is by far my favourite.
Did you know? The name bigolo derives from the Venetian dialect “bigat”, meaning worm, probably due to the form. But it has also a second and more vulgar meaning. It is in fact a dialectal synonym of penis. Oh dear! I can’t help but think of Miranda Hart right now and her chocolate penis. Such fun! I loved that show… not the final season. Who agrees with me?