The story starts with a Facebook posting from Ned Deily, who’s currently in Rome:
There’s a lot I don’t know about the product name Fagolosi — in particular, what associations the name might have for speakers of Italian, though what comes first to my mind are the words fagotto ‘bassoon’ and fagottini (for a type of pasta), which suggest sticks or reeds and bundles or purses, respectively.
Before I get to that, a bit more about the Fagolosi (note that the word is plural). One site says, in somewhat rocky English:
Special breadsticks with a very particular shape, exclusive creation of Grissin Bon (patented name ®) that competitors are trying to copy but with no success.
Differently from the classic breadsticks, Fagoloso [the singular form] has a flat and undulating shape with grains of salt that make it very appetizing.
Careful preparation, long leaving and thorough cooking make Fagolosi crumbly and crunchy.
Flavours available: CLASSIC, ROSEMARY, SESAME and ONION.
Now to bassoons, or fagotti (abbreviated fag. in musical scores, which always entertains young English-speaking musicians). My sources are unclear about the etymology, but ‘bundle of sticks’ (which combines ‘stick’ and the ‘bundle’ components; the bassoon looks like two sticks — tubes — bound together, a connection made by Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary in 1913) is a possibility.
Fagotto ‘bassoon’ was borrowed directly from Italian into English; OED2′s first cite is 1724. Meanwhile, faggot or fagot had been in English since the 14th century, for ’a bundle of sticks, twigs, or small branches of trees bound together’, for use as fuel or for sweeping (a sense from which the slur faggot developed via a chain of semantic shifts); OED2 gives its etymology as from
French fagot, of unknown origin; compare Italian fa(n)gotto
which leaves the connections unclear.
The word fagottini (again, a plural) is more straightforward. The Wikipedia description:
Fagottini is an Italian pasta. They are typically pasta shapes filled with vegetables, typically steamed carrots and green beans, ricotta, onion and olive oil. [note the shift from singular syntax in English to plural]
And the more extensive description in George Legendre’s Pasta by Design (Thames & Hudson, 2011):
A notable member of the pasta ripiena (filled pasta) family, fagottini (little purses) are made from circles of durum-wheat dough. A spoonful of ricotta, steamed vegetables or even stewed fruit is placed on the dough, and the corners are then pinched together to form a bundle. These packed dumplings are similar to ravioli, only larger. [also in the pasta ripiena family, in addition to fagottini and ravioli: agnolotti, cannelloni, cappelletti, conchiglioni rigati, creste di galli, galletti, lasagna larga doppia riccia, lumaconi rigati, saccottini, tortellini]
So fagottino is the diminutive of fagotto ‘purse’. An apt name for the pasta. Here’s a photo of fagottini just like the one pictured in Legendre (p. 61):
The accompanying text tells us that the purses are filled with ricotta and radicchio (red “Italian chicory”).
There are other variants. Here’s one with pronounced handles on the purses:
These tiny parcels have a meat based filling and as they are fresh [from the Florence market] take next to no time to cook. Combined with a good chicken stock you have a most nourishing meal in a flash. (link)
(In a flash if you can get fresh meat-filled fagottini from your market.)
Finally, the handles can be tied off, by scallions (scalogni) as here:
These are fagottini di crêpes agli spinaci, with a spinach and caprino (goat cheese) filling (recipe, in Italian, here).
(More about Legendre’s fascinating book and on Hildebrand & Kenedy’s 2010 The Geometry of Pasta in a later posting.)