"The cinema is cruel like a miracle." -Frank O'Hara

Giulietta’s Spaghetti Recipe


What's cookin' good lookin'?

This is the secret recipe that Giulietta Masina said was the “love potion” she fed her husband of 50 years, filmmaker Federico Fellini. He told Charlotte Chandler for her ghost autobiography, I, Fellini (1995), it was the one secret Giulietta never shared with him.

On the side, in a small pan, melt:

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil


2 to 3 onions
2 cloves garlic
4 cups peeled tomatoes

Add the chopped onions and garlic to the oil when the oil is not boiling. It’s best to use extra virgin olive oil.
Use fresh tomatoes, if possible, or peeled canned tomatoes. Do not use tomato purée. Plunge fresh tomatoes into boiling water until the skins loosen, then peel, drain, chop, and crush.

Prepare the spaghetti pasta (for 4) by plunging it into boiling water until it’s al dente.

Pour the chopped garlic and onions into a larger pan, and add the chopped and crushed tomatoes.

With the tomato, the secret is to add:
1 teaspoon of sugar
1/2 a lemon’s juice

Sugar is the essential ingredient, and the lemon adds a subtle sweet and sour effect. According to Giulietta, it brings out the flavor of the tomatoes.

A dash of paprika
Fresh, aged Parmesan cheese

Giulietta always put on an apron because the sauce can “jump up” on your blouse. She was so happy to be cooking spaghetti after having been in hotel rooms. She said he (Fellini) could never leave her because he could never leave her spaghetti.

Category: mystery flavor

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4 Responses

  1. Bruce Pross says:

    Have you yourself made this yet?

  2. Giulietta had such life, too. What a wonderful actress. I loved her most of all in Le Notti di Cabiria: that character she creates is magnificent!

  3. Marko says:

    I’m not good at cooking but I will try :) My girlfriend will be happy…
    Thank you for sharing!

  4. John Joseph says:

    The recipe, while splendid, tastes a bit old-fashioned today because of the large proportion of onion to tomato. My children love it, but I find the onion less overwhelming if I use one medium-size onion rather than the two or three that the wonderful Giulietta called for. I don’t think the change would have caused Federico to leave.

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