Long ago, in the poorer neighbourhoods of Naples, people often didn’t have enough money to pay the shoe cobbler. So it was a common practice to barter a few bits of food in exchange for repaired soles.
This explains the origins of «scarpariello» (Neapolitan for cobbler) pasta, which the cobbler prepared by adding tomatoes, aubergines and aromatic herbs. Nowadays, this poor man’s recipe is made rich by adding «bocconcini» («small mouthfuls» in Italian) cheese, or better still, «mozzarella di bufala», a fresh soft cheese made from the milk of the black water buffalo.
Originally published in the Journal de Montréal on September 22, 2009.