Punchinello, the Neapolitan mask known all over the world, has not well-defined origins.
This character was invented by Silvio Fiorillo from Capua who, since 1621 on , transformed the mask into a theatre character.
According to many "historians" the name Pulcinella comes from Pulcinello ( Italian for little chick, from which the mask would have taken the hooked nose); for others the name derives from Puccio D'Aniello, a Guascon from Aversa ( in the province of Naples), who lived in 17th century and was used to mock an itinerant theatre company , then he took part of this company as fool.
his traditional surname is Cetrulo ( Neapolitan for cucumber), probably due to his lack of shrewdness.
He wears a laced white shirt, white pants, a conical white cap and hides his face with a black mask ; he takes a stick or a sword ( typical dress of Neapolitan country-folk) on his belt .
As personification of good and bad popular instincts , he loves the sweet idleness and food is his main thought ; he adapts himself to every circumstance , he often gets drunk and ends up by being beaten. He is acknowledged for being a good singer and taking life philosophically.
The mask has represented and still represents the Neapolitan common people, hungry and vulgar, braggart , coward and desecrating, which has always been oppressed by the various powerful who have been ruled Naples through the ages.
In a cheerful and melancholic , a sad and happy Naples, reflecting the thousands common people's faces , Punch was coward and hero in the same time, ignorant and philopher , in a word, a complete play actor.
Punch does not personifies a defined character, but a collection of characters who have in common the "Neapolitaness", that is the soul of each Neapolitan.
Punchinello is well known abroad, particularly in France as Polichinelle ( a hook nosed, hunchback braggart ), in England as Punch ( melancholic, brutal mask), in Germany as Polizenelle and in Spain as Pulchinelo .
Many actors have played the role of Punchinello on stage , the most famous was Antonio Petito, who had a great success at San Carlino theatre and, though he was almost illiterate, he wrote some comedies with Punch as main character. Punchinello became one of the most famous Italian masks.
Punchinello's success lasted until world war II ; subsequently he would be relegated to the puppets theatre, so appreciated by children.
Punchinello's favourite dish is spaghetti, but also macaroni, fusilli and every kind of pasta, even the leftovers from pasta , flavoured with butter and Parmesan or with tomato sauce or meat sauce.
Leftovers from pasta
an egg for each person
extra virgin olive oil
Whisk egg and Parmesan. In a pan, heat the oil and add the pasta, then the eggs and, with the help of a fork, level the mixture.
Go on cooking at a moderate flame, bow the pan so that the cooking results homogeneous. The omelette is ready when the mixture gets brown.
Serve warm or cold.