Vermicelli (and not Spaghetti!) with clams

The ancient ‘”Trattoria Bacco” of Furore, opened in 1927 by our grandfather Raffaele Ferraioli, makes “Vermicelli (and not Spaghetti!) with clams” since its birth, about ninety years ago.

We specify that the correct term to use is “Vermicelli”. It is no coincidence that in Neapolitan slang it is said “Vermecielle cu’ e Vongole”. The term “spaghetti” is, instead, Italian and was first reported in 1819 by the Dizionario delle Lingua Italiana del Tommaseo.

Here this dish is prepared with rare skill by Erminia Cuomo, according to an ancient recipe, which provides for the use of a few but irreplaceable cherry tomatoes from the piennolo, able to give additional scents to seafood and, above all, to act as a sponge and absorb all the aromas of seafood when they open.  You can even do without clams and prepare the famous “Vermicielle cu’ ‘e vongole fujute”, which tastes like the sea even without clams and is a monument of the so-called poor cuisine.

In front of this dish the great Raffaele Viviani, our regular guest during his Sunday trips “out of town”, in a beautiful poem dedicated to Grandpa Raffaele, exclaimed: “‘Nu piatto ‘e vermecielle ca par’ oro!

It is, in any case, the symbol dish of Christmas Eve in the Neapolitan tradition, when the tomatoes are dehydrated to the right point and, freed from the seeds, act as a cushion for the clams.

The recipe

The ingredients commonly used for a person are:

– gr. 70-100 of Vermicelli di Pastifici di Gragnano, produced with Tavoliere durum wheat, bronze drawn, dried naturally

– extra-virgin olive oil DOP from  Colline Salernitane

– 5-10 cherry tomatoes from the piennolo crushed and freed from the seeds

– gr. 200 real clams

– salt, parsley, chilli pepper, garlic to taste.

Our recipe is made with the following procedure:

Fry the garlic in the oil until browned; add the cherry tomatoes and, afterwards, the raw clams properly purged; cover and open the seafood; add salt and very little chilli pepper; season the vermicelli, spread the chopped parsley on the plate and serve.

There is a white version, without tomatoes, which is called “alla Posillipo”, but we are oriented to prefer this recipe.

The clams must be added to the raw sauce (it is necessary to avoid their “opening” beforehand, which would make their scents disappear).

The clams must be of the type “Ruditapes decussatus”, which are increasingly unobtainable, or of the species “Ruditapes Philippinarum”, which are the most common.

The pasta shapes used are: vermicelli or vermicellini. On request we can use linguine, but  is exceptionally.

A variant of our design is “Vermecielle Terra/Mare”, with added clams of caper leaves, lemon peel and black pepper.

It has often happened that some customers (foreigners above all) asked us to add some Parmesan cheese. We refused to become “accomplices” of such a desecration and in front of repeated insistence we were forced to take back the dish just served to him and to point out that we had the wrong restaurant, inviting him, kindly, to …sit down.

The “Terra/Mare” version, is served with the addition of caper leaves, lemon peel and black pepper, a good solution that further encloses the furitan flavors.

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