Looking into the origin of a dish is sometimes like looking into a telescope that contracts history rather than distance. The zucchini used here as sauce for fusilli are known as a scapece, an Italianization of the Spanish escabeche. It is a manner of pickling vegetables or small fish by first frying them in olive oil, then steeping them in vinegar and mint. Although the word comes from the Spanish, the dish comes from the ancient Romans and, before them, probably from the Greeks. The Spaniards found it when they became lords of Southern Italy, gave it a name of their own, which in turn was transformed and absorbed by the local dialect. Zucchini, carrots, or eggplant prepared this way can be put up in jars and served up to a month later as appetizers or condiments. To make zucchini a scapece one would usually slice them into rounds, but in the sauce they work better cut into julienne strips that curl around the whorls of the fusilli.
© 1986 Marcella Hazan estate. All rights reserved.