The ultimate symbol of Italian cuisine, simple goodness whose different formats and preparations tell the story of Italian traditions
PASTA: PLACE OF ORIGIN AND PROCESSING
Its appearance and ingredients are simple, but Pasta means so much more than that. It represents tradition, history, family, conviviality, culture, experimentation, past and present. Pasta is all about Italian people and their authentic passion for a cuisine with authentic flavours, to be enjoyed in company.
The water and flour used in each pasta format tell a different story, as they are made into the various pasta shapes characteristic of Italy's most delectable lands and regions. They evoke the hands of grandmothers and mothers in the past busy kneading, rolling out, cutting, and then moving to the stove to prepare the sauces.
A symbol of Italian cuisine, Pasta was introduced by the Arabs during their rule in Sicily, around 1150, and then made its way up the peninsula, leaving it mark and taking root in the individual culinary traditions that have perfected its production and recipes.
Producing quality pasta is not simple. First of all you need to choose carefully the durum wheat semolina and water, whose grade of purity is fundamental. The dough must be kneaded slowly, so as to obtain a homogeneous mixture, and extrusion must be done using bronze dies, mainly in the south of Italy, or Teflon ones. Both solutions are optimal for producing a high quality product, and the choice depends only on traditions and preferences about the final result: bronze dies for a rougher pasta texture, Teflon ones for a brighter appearance.
Each shape yields different flavours, despite the ingredients being basically the same. It's a question of mental approaches, memories, and personal associations that are reflected in a pasta dish whose appearance is only superficially naive. There are more than 300 pasta formats in Italy, which can be classified as fresh and dry, short, long, grooved, smooth, solid or hollow.
Each regional cuisine has created different pasta types, principally to match available sauces. Through the years this process has created sauce/pasta shape combinations that have endured to this day, and that were determined by the availability of ingredients in the different geographical areas. A sort of “architecture of taste” was created this way, the perfect combination between local sauce and pasta variety.
Pasta is one of the mainstays of the Mediterranean diet and represents its genuine wholesomeness. Rich in fibre and complex carbohydrates, it provides a concentration of nutrients and energy, particularly beneficial for people who practice sports. It is a myth to think that pasta is fattening. Nothing could be further from the truth. When eaten in moderate quantities and with a simple sauce, that is, one that is not rich in fats, Pasta is an ideal and complete one-course meal. It’s also considered a perfect anti-stress, very easily digestible food.
PASTA IN THE KITCHEN
What can we say except that Pasta is a true queen in the kitchen? The first course par excellence, it expresses its versatility through the interpretations of the numerous different regional culinary traditions. Some sauces have become the perfect complement to pasta shapes that are bywords for excellence: Bucatini all’Amatriciana, Trofie with pesto, Tagliatelle with meat sauce, Lasagne Bolognese, Penne all’arrabbiata, Strozzapreti alla norcina, Spaghetti alla chitarra and Orecchiette with rapini, just to mention a few of the delicious dishes that tell the story of Italy’s varied taste.
Pasta is a most versatile dish, as it combines equally well with meat and vegetable sauces, with oil and butter, with fish and herbs. It is a blank canvas on which to paint and let one’s imagination run wild.