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Love Puglia, Love Lolita Lobosco | On Bari’s Assassin’s Trail

Spaghetti all’assassina. Bari from Al Sorso Preferito, Bari, where the dish was created. Photo The Puglia Guys.

Spaghetti all’assassina is Italy’s best known least known spaghetti dish. Check out Jamie, Nigella, Gino. Champions of Italian cuisine, yet none of them have a recipe. Not even Gennaro nor Giorgio Locatelli. But the thing is, when one of them ‘discovers’ Bari’s beautiful contribution to the Italian cook book, it’s going to be fantastico. The ‘latest thing’.

Except of course this latest thing has been cooking in Puglia’s kitchens and restaurants for well over half a century.

In this case, unusually, it seems America has ‘discovered’ this pleasure from Puglia. Spaghetti all’assassina from Bari, Puglia blew Stanley Tucci away on his ‘Searching for Italy’ gastronomic tour of la bella paese.

On The Assassin’s Trail with Lolita Lobosco

We are on on our assassin’s trail Bari pilgrimage. Whilst the recipe has been a local ‘secret’, best known in and around the winding passageways of Bari Vecchia, the renaissance – and believe us, there is a renewed interest given the enquiries we receive about it – can be traced back to recent cultural moments.

Lolita Lobosco is a fictional, literary and television character, the protagonist of the detective novels by Gabriella Genisi and the derivative television series, currently an Italian TV sensation.

Lobosco is a deputy police commissioner from in Bari where she heads an all-male team.

In the first novel she is described as a beautiful, sensual thirty-six year old. Bold and ‘good in the kitchen’ (we are in Italy). Divorced for three years, her father disappeared when Lolita was a teenager, instrumental in her decision to join the force. After a period spent in Northern Italy she was transferred back to her home, in Bari.

In the TV publicity it is said she has an ‘irrepressible femininity’, though it is enhanced by ‘provocative clothing’ (we are in Italy), with a characteristic feature: Louboutin shoes.

The novels are characterized by first-person narration, the use of a simplified dialect – in the TV series non-native actress Luisa Ranieri, who hails from Napoli, has been commended for her Bari dialect – and a final chapter dedicated to culinary recipes mentioned in the stories.

In 2015 author Gabriella Genisi published the fifth novel in the series: Spaghetti all’Assassina.

What other spaghetti dish could so perfectly lend itself to murder?

“The inventor of `spaghetti all’Assassina’, the most famous dish in Bari, is found dead. The victim was killed in such a brutal way that a murky, passionate motive is suspected.”

Lolita Lobosco is an Italian TV sensation. And before then the novel. Attributed to the revival of spaghetti all’assassina.

Tradition Trumps, Always

We are in Bari. Our regional capital, where spaghetti all’assassina was created.

There are two competing Academies (of course, we are in Italy) established to protect the provenance of this dish. Not only does it require cooking with the specific ingredients, it also requires a specific method. That includes the pan in which the spaghetti all’assassina must be cooked.


So far, so good. We have completed 3 stages of our trail.

On each stage of our assassin’s trail we could burst out in tears. The passion, the tradition, and the ‘not’ tradition. Be in no doubt. In this city there is a dedication to the tradition of this city’s contribution to Italian cuisine: spaghetti all’assassina.

Tradition Trumps, Not Always

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