Ravioli stuffed with Italian sausage

(Some indirect and asterisked reference to man-on-man sex, but, hey, it’s from the Associated Press.)

Or: Love among the mobsters.  In some hot news:

Chicago (AP wire story) — An odd chapter in American mobsterdom came to an end in a hail of bullets yesterday as thugs of the Buonanotte crime family gunned down Pasquale “Patsy” Baloney, the famously vicious soldato for — and long-time secret lover of — capo Carlo “Charlie” Ravioli of the Bastardo family, who died of a massive heart attack only two months ago.

How it came about that Mafia mastermind Ravioli (smooth, urbane, a patron of Italian opera and respectable public face for the Bastardos, but also a genius at organized vice and a ruthlessly effective boss) connected sexually with his favored soldier Baloney (crude, vulgar, foul-mouthed, and vicious — often compared to Doug Piranha) is something of a mystery, but it was an open secret in the family, tolerated out of respect for Ravioli, rather than meeting the customary bullets to the back of the head for men labeled “faggots”. Even more remarkable because it was known that Ravioli was entirely subordinate and submissive in every way, accepting with grace Baloney’s referring to him as “my woman” and Baloney’s recounting in detail to his (openly revolted) fellow soldiers the sexual services Ravioli supplied for him (none of which, apparently, were reciprocated in any way). Despite the tolerance, a standing Bastardo dirty joke crowed that Charlie’s ravioli was getting stuffed with Italian sausage.

One fellow soldier, interviewed off-record for this story, just shrugged his shoulders, admitting that the mysteries of man-to-man attraction were inscrutable to him. (Verbatim: “You never f**king know what the f**k those c**ks**ker c**tboys will get off on”.)

Buonanotte-family soldiers now maintain that they had proposed to impale “that *ss-burglar Baloney” on a red-hot poker (their capo Luigi “Louisville” Esposito had apparently seen Derek Jarman’s film Edward II and been impressed by it), but that in the end the plan seemed overly complicated and required too much unfamiliar equipment, so they fell back on their familiar routine for offing the competition.

Today the streets of Chicago are tense with the possibility of a Mafia gang war.

And that’s the news from the mean streets.

Background: Patsy Baloney and Charlie Ravioli. From my 6/29/22 posting “Patsy Baloney”, about this as a mis-transcription of the name Pat Cipollone (the former White House counsel, now much in the news): Pasquale Anthony “Pat” Cipollone — thus accidentally creating the fictive low-level thug in the Mafia.

I’ll start with the names.

Patsy and Pat are nicknames for Pasquale (originally ‘paschal, relating to Passover / Easter’). Patsy tends to be associated with Mafia usage, as here:

Pasquale “Patsy” Conte (born March 12, 1925) is an American mobster who became a caporegime with the Gambino crime family. He also owned a bunch of Key Food supermarkets. (Wikipedia link)

Pasquale Lolordo (1887 – January 8, 1929), also known as Pasqualino or “Patsy”, was an Italian-born American Mafia boss from Ribera, Sicily, and head of the Chicago chapter of the Unione Siciliana, a “front” organization for the Mafia. Lolordo was considered one of the most powerful mafia bosses during the late 1920s. (Wikipedia link)

Cipollone (literally ‘big onion’ — an augmentative version of cipolla ‘onion’) originally referred to someone with a big head, now is just a surname.

Baloney is a lot more complicated. To start with, AmE has two nouns bologna and baloney, both pronounced /bǝlóni/. From NOAD:

noun bolognaNorth American a large smoked [AZ: everyday American bologna, from the Oscar Mayer company, say, is not smoked], seasoned sausage made of various meats, especially beef and pork. [elliptical for — a beheading of — the Source / Origin compound Bologna sausage ‘a large kind of sausage first made at Bologna (in Italy)’; OED2’s 1st cite for Bologna sausage is from 1833]

noun baloneyinformal 1 foolish or deceptive talk; nonsense: typical salesman’s baloney. 2 North American [spelling] variant of bologna. [OED2 on sense 1: “Commonly regarded as < bologna n. (sausage) but the connection remains conjectural”; OED2’s 1st cite for this usage is from 1928]

More detail on the sausage from Wikipedia:

Bologna sausage, also spelled baloney, is a sausage derived from the Italian mortadella, a similar-looking, finely ground pork sausage containing cubes of pork fat, originally from the city of Bologna [in northern Italy]. Typical seasonings for bologna include black pepper, nutmeg, allspice, celery seed and coriander, and, like mortadella, myrtle berries give it its distinctive flavor.

(#1) Bologna slices (photo: MILANFOTO via Getty Images)

Meanwhile, Bologna (pronounced in AmE /bǝlónjǝ/) is a fairly common Italian-American name, sometimes belonging to mobsters. Perhaps most famously, John Bologna. From the MassLive site, “FBI files on John Bologna offer new information on Mafia in Springfield [MA]” by Stephanie Barry on 5/23/17:

New York gangster John Bologna died in prison [in January 2017].

It was something of an irony, since he played the long game to stay out of jail for decades as an FBI informant. All the while, he still made a robust illegal living shoulder-to-shoulder with Mafia bosses from New York City to Springfield.

And then Ravioli. A rare, but attested, Italian and Italian-American surname. But mostly a play on the food name. From Wikipedia:

(#2) On the Jamie Oliver cooking site, a recipe for Bolognese ravioli with a simple tomato sauce: ravioli filled with Bolognese (that is, Bolognese sauce, the M(ass) noun Bolognese being a beheading of the full nominal), a combination of minced pork and minced veal or beef

Ravioli … are a type of pasta comprising a filling enveloped in thin pasta dough. Usually served in broth or with a sauce, they originated as a traditional food in Italian cuisine. Ravioli are commonly square, though other forms are also used, including circular and semi-circular (mezzelune).

The word ‘ravioli’ means “little turnips” in Italian dialect, from the Italian rava meaning turnips, from the Latin rapa.

… Traditionally, ravioli are made at home. The filling varies according to the area where they are prepared. In Rome and Latium the filling is made with ricotta cheese, spinach, nutmeg and black pepper. In Sardinia, ravioli are filled with ricotta and grated lemon rind.

… Canned ravioli were pioneered by the Italian Army in the First World War and were popularized by Heinz and Buitoni in the UK and Europe, and Chef Boyardee in the United States. Canned ravioli may be filled with beef, processed cheese, chicken, or Italian sausage and served in a tomato, tomato-meat, or tomato-cheese sauce.

The Jamie Oliver recipe is an elegant reproduction of the canned stuff.

The full name Charlie Ravioli (which I have shamelessly borrowed here) is an invention of the 3-year-old Olivia Gopnik, as described by her father Adam in a 2002 New Yorker piece that then appeared in his book Through the Children’s Gate: A Home in New York (2007). I turn now to Charlie.

The perpetually busy New Yorker Charlie Ravioli. My characterization of Patsy Baloney as a low-level thug in the Mafia struck a chord with my old (like, of 60+ years) friend Benita Bendon Campbell, who wrote me on 7/6 to connect Patsy to Charlie:

I  am so grateful to you for Patsy Baloney …  I think Patsy is a stalwart colleague of Charlie Ravioli, Olivia Gopnik’s imaginary acquaintance …. I have always suspected Charlie of some nefarious gangland shenanigans — otherwise why did he ignore Olivia’s messages so often?

The fantasy world is preferable to the Real One, just now.

(Bonnie is in no way responsible for what I’ve done with Patsy and Charlie, in my fantasy world.)

From the New Yorker‘s 9/30/02 issue, “Bumping into Mr. Ravioli: A theory of busyness, and its hero” by Adam Gopnik, on-line on 9/23:

My daughter Olivia, who just turned three, has an imaginary friend whose name is Charlie Ravioli. Olivia is growing up in Manhattan, and so Charlie Ravioli has a lot of local traits: he lives in an apartment “on Madison and Lexington,” he dines on grilled chicken, fruit, and water, and, having reached the age of seven and a half, he feels, or is thought, “old.” But the most peculiarly local thing about Olivia’s imaginary playmate is this: he is always too busy to play with her. She holds her toy cell phone up to her ear, and we hear her talk into it: “Ravioli? It’s Olivia . . . It’s Olivia. Come and play? O.K. Call me. Bye.” Then she snaps it shut, and shakes her head. “I always get his machine,” she says. Or she will say, “I spoke to Ravioli today.” “Did you have fun?” my wife and I ask. “No. He was busy working. On a television” (leaving it up in the air if he repairs electronic devices or has his own talk show).

On a good day, she “bumps into” her invisible friend and they go to a coffee shop. “I bumped into Charlie Ravioli,” she announces at dinner (after a day when, of course, she stayed home, played, had a nap, had lunch, paid a visit to the Central Park Zoo, and then had another nap). “We had coffee, but then he had to run.” She sighs, sometimes, at her inability to make their schedules mesh, but she accepts it as inevitable, just the way life is. “I bumped into Charlie Ravioli today,” she says. “He was working.” Then she adds brightly, “But we hopped into a taxi.” What happened then? we ask. “We grabbed lunch,” she says.

Innocent Olivia doesn’t realize that Charlie’s busyness is merely clever cover for his mob activities (and his clandestine couplings with Patsy), and has nothing to do with television. Well, she’s only 3, with very little knowledge of the wicked world, and she goes on what she sees. To her, Charlie seems to be just another upper-middle-class New Yorker.

More background: mob notes. From NOAD:

noun capo-2 : mainly North American the head of a crime syndicate, especially the Mafia, or a branch of one: the Sicilian capo claims he controls most of the world’s heroin trade. [ultimately < Latin caput ‘head’]

And then from Wikipedia:

A soldato or soldier is the first official level of both the American Mafia and the Sicilian Mafia in the formal Mafia hierarchy or cadre. The promotion to the rank of soldier is an elevation in the chain of command from the associate level. The associate, who is not an initiated member of the Mafia, must prove himself to the family and take the oath of Omertà in order to become an initiated made man and therefore rise to the rank of soldato.

…  A soldier’s main responsibility is to earn money and give a portion of his profits up to his capo.

… [Soldiers] also serve as muscle of their crime family. Like an associate, he can also be relied on to commit acts of intimidation, threats, violence and murder. The soldier is obliged to obey orders from his capo to commit murder for his crime family.

Capo Ravioli, soldato Baloney.

The Ravioli-Baloney dirty joke. You can of course fill, or stuff, ravioli, the pasta, with sausage meat of any number of varieties originating in Italy; Jamie Oliver’s recipe uses what is essentially bologna (aka baloney) meat, so it is in fact ravioli stuffed with baloney.

On the other hand, Ravioli stuffed with Baloney — with the British sexual verb stuff ‘pedicate, prong, screw’ (you get the idea) — is a dirty joke, a crude slur on Charlie and Patsy’s physical expression of their desire for one another.

The opportunities for dirty jokes here are rich; above I mentioned

a standing Bastardo dirty joke … that Charlie’s ravioli was getting stuffed with Italian sausage

which opens things up in several dimensions. For one thing, there’s proper Ravioli vs. common ravioli again, plus a sexual metaphor in which ravioli as receptacles for stuffing stand for a sexcavity as receptacle for a penis.

[Digression on C(ount) and M(ass). The Wikipedia article on ravioli and the Wikipedia entry for ravioli (‘small pasta envelopes containing ground meat, cheese, or vegetables’) both treat the English noun ravioli as PL C, as the Italian noun ravioli is (the PL of raviolo), but this is not at all the vernacular AmE treatment of the noun, which is as (SG) M. OED3 (Dec. 2008) gets it right:

As a mass noun: pasta in the form of square, circular, or semicircular envelopes with a filling of cheese, vegetables, or meat, usually served with a sauce. Also occasionally with plural agreement.

Similarly in AHD5.

(I realize that this is a digression in a digression, but in this particular posting of mine, it’s irresistible. OED3 has the following note:

Some sources state that ravioli should not be stuffed with meat …, but in English usage this does not seem to be widely observed.

Oh my.)]

Then to sausage, which has a wider range of usages than you might have thought. NOAD nails two:

noun sausage: [a] an item of food in the form of a cylindrical length of minced pork or other meat encased in a skin, typically sold raw to be grilled or fried before eating. [b] minced and seasoned meat that has been encased in a skin and cooked or preserved, sold mainly to be eaten cut up in slices: smoked German sausage.

The first complexity here is that for many speakers, sausage in both of these senses seems to be doubly classified for C/M, so that these speakers are comfortable both with Get some sausages for dinner (PL C) and Get some sausage for dinner (SG M), referring in both cases to the purchase of food items in encased links. Contrast this treatment with that of frankfurter and hot dog (among other nouns), which are resolutely C only. And — surprise! — with yet another sense of sausage ‘sausage meat’ (another beheading), which is resolutely M only (since it refers to ground meat, which is stuff rather than things).  Here, two ads for Johnsonville (hot) Italian sausage, the first with sausage in NOAD‘s sense a ‘(raw) link sausage’, the second with beheaded sausage ‘sausage meat”:

(#3) We’ve got the wienies

(#4) We’ve got the meat

The dirty joke in Charlie’s ravioli was getting stuffed with Italian sausage plays on the two senses: if you culinarily stuff ravioli with sausage, that’s the ground meat in #4; while if you sexually stuff a guy (like Ravioli) with sausage, that’s the bodypart counterpart to the links in #3 (Ravioli’s getting screwed with Italian dick).

One more twist. Alas, Italian sausage above doesn’t refer to just any sausage originating in Italy; not bologna / baloney, for example, or any of the varieties of salami, or uncured pisto. The expression here is an AmE idiom, referring to a particular type of mortadella(-ish) sausage. From Wikipedia:

(#5) From a “How to cook Italian sausages” page, a photo of links in the pan

In North America, Italian sausage (salsiccia in Italian) most often refers to a style of pork sausage. The sausage is often noted for being seasoned with fennel as the primary seasoning.

So we come around to another version of the dirty joke, the one in my title (Ravioli stuffed with Italian sausage), in which Ravioli, the person, gets sexually stuffed with a metaphorical Italian penis (in the shape of an Italian sausage link like those in #5).

That’s a dirty joke, also an elaborate pun, with an entirely innocent gastronomic interpretation, in  which a guy named Ravioli has eaten salsiccia to his limits or his satisfaction.

Meanwhile, I find that #5 makes my mouth water. Linguistic pragmatics is hard; let’s get eating.

One Response to “Ravioli stuffed with Italian sausage”

  1. Michael NewmanM Says:

    In terms of the real mafia and homosexuality, I remember a Cuban stylist I had on the Upper West Side back in the 90s who said the owner of the salon he worked for was a very young mobster, who made the self-satisfied boast that he had a girl and a maricón. As long as the roles were clear, it was fine in the mob-twink’s world.

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