I·ATE: Capellini – the thin spaghetti


In Italy, capellini is a type of pasta typical of the central-northern part of the country but it is also famous in the south of Italy as one ingredient of oven-baked dishes.


shrimp-vermicelliIateAs in Italy, in other countries, like in the USA, capellini are also known with the name of capelli d’angelo (angel hair) since they are one of the thinnest kind of long pasta that can even be wound to give it a shape of a nest. Moreover, in the past, the hand-made preparation of capellini required such a great talent that they have always been considered a symbol of delicacy and elegance.

To prepare homemade capellini, you will need durum wheat semolina and water. Cook 100 gr. of capellini in 1 litre of water and you can garnish them as you wish. Simple condiments are preferred but amongst the most common ingredients there are melted or unmelted butter, cheese, sage, sauces with eggs or fresh tomato.capellini_soup

According to another variant of this dish, capellini can also be cooked and eaten in broth, better if it is chicken broth, with for example meatballs, curry, lettuce and fennel as suggested in a recipe proposed by the well-known Italian magazine La Cucina Italiana.

Since capellini are thinner than spaghetti, they can be used in different dishes, even international ones where they are pan fried and combined with vegetables or meat and that makes them similar to Asian noodles.

noodlesIn fact, noodles are also one of the firm favourites in the South-east-Asian cuisine. The Japanese word Menrui stands for all the popular noodle dishes which actually originated a long time ago in China. The Menrui dishes are prepared and served in many different ways and are eaten both hot and cold. Among the most common types of Japanese noodles we can find somen, udon, soba and ramen.

The type of Asian noodles most similar to the capellini are the somen, which are wheat-based noodles made with flour, water and vegetable oil and stretched during the manufacturing process. Their distinctive feature is that they are extremely thin and have a delicate white colour. They are usually served as a cold dish, especially in summer and accompanied with a dipping sauce called tsuyu based on bonito flakes.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFinish your tasty trip back to Europe, where you can find capellini again in Spain, known as fideos and in Greece known as fides or mallia angelou (μαλλιά αγγέλου – angel hair). Mostly, in both countries you eat them in soup. The chicken and lemon recipe for example is very popular for its strengthening powers when someone is sick. In case you wonder for the etymology of this greco-spanish version, fideos or fides  probably derive from Ancient Greek, where σφίδη (sphídē) was the chord, the string. Capellini are thin, long, strings so it is probable that this was the reason behind the choice of naming this type of pasta as fideos or fides. In addition, in Byzantine Greek and Modern Greek, fidi is the snake and as you know… snakes curl! Capellini are found also in round curls so this is one of the ways visual terminology could be created!

And in your country? In your region? Do you have similar capellini recipes? If yes, how do you call it?

Have a nice weekend and always delicious discoveries!








Written by Iris Rinner – Terminology trainee at the Terminology Coordination Unit of the European Parliament, BA in Modern Foreign Languages and Cultures from the University of Sassari and MA in Specialized Translation from the University of Vienna, and Serena Grementieri – Terminology trainee at the Terminology Coordination Unit of the European Parliament, BA in Intercultural Linguistic Mediation and MA degree in Specialized Translation at the School of Foreign Languages and Literatures, Interpreting and Translation (ex-SSLMIT) of Forlì, University of Bologna.

Post edited by  Katerina PalamiotiTranslator, Social Media and Content Manager, Communication Trainee and Foodie at the Terminology Coordination Unit of the European Parliament.


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