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Spaghetti alla busara

The culinary history of Venice is made by simple but tasty recipes, encased in a tradition that is been handed down for centuries. An example are “spaghetti alla busara”, spaghetti with tomato sauce and stewed crayfishes. Their Dalmatian and Istrian origins meet the Venetian ones after the last War, so much so that, today, is considered one of the most important dishes of the Venetian cuisine.

The Experimental Gastronomy of Antonio Papadopoli

Although this is a recipe recently adopted in the Venice culinary tradition, the crayfishes are always been the protagonists of lagoon gastronomy because they came fresh, every day, from the nearby city of Rijeka, Croatia, as said Antonio Papadopoli, comedian and Venetian gastronome, author of the bizarre and delightful Experimental Gastronomy of 1866 in which he writes:

“Rijeka, the Hungarian city, I must confess it was been favored by God because, besides to be in an exceptional location, favorable for the trade, its sea is full of the best fish, which are used to satisfy human gluttony. What other fish we can compare with the crayfish? One day I heard a stranger said: “God blessed Rijeka, its women, its crayfishes!” However, according to my taste, I’ll say: “God blessed Rijeka for its crayfishes before, and then its women”. 

The origin of the name “busara”

spaghetti alla busaraThe origin of the name buzara or busara (stewed crayfishes) is unclear. For somebody, it means “trick”, in Venetian dialect, because the Venetian fishermen cooked crayfishes scraps with tomatoes and wine for a delicious soup. For others, the name comes from the clay pot that they used on ships to cook the crayfishes.

We don’t care what its origin is, what is certain is that its flavor is unmistakable and sublime and easy to prepare in your kitchen.

Here’s how.

The recipe


350 g of spaghetti

Extra virgin olive oil

1 white onion

2 cloves of garlic

12/15 crayfishes large and fresh

4 tomatoes

2 cups dry white wine

Salt q.s.

Black pepper and chili q.s.

Fresh parsley q.s.

How to prepare it

  1. First, browned the garlic and onion in olive oil, then put the crayfishes and salt. When they are cooked, after about 5 minutes, drain and set aside.

  1. In the same pot where you are cooked the crayfishes, add wine and tomatoes. Salt and cook it for about 20 minutes.

  1. Next, add a little water and the crayfishes. Cook for another 5 minutes.

  1. Cook the spaghetti and when they are ready, put the crayfishes and flavor with pepper, parsley and a pinch of pepper and serve hot accompanied with a dry white wine, and … Good appetite!

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