A Chopstick in my Italian Kitchen
I've been playing around with using tools from other cuisines' kitchens in my Italian pasta-making. While experimenting with fusilli calabrese, I decided to throw a Chinese chopstick into the mix. In Calabria (Southern "tip of the boot," Italy) fusilli are traditionally made with a knitting needle. Honoring the importance of the specified metal tool, Italians often call this noodle maccheroni al ferretto ('macaroni formed by iron'). Could I execute the traditional Southern Italian pasta-making method with a wooden Chinese tool?
Unlike the short corkscrew-shape pasta that we commonly call fusilli in America, the fusilli calabrese are spaghetti-length hollow, twisted strands. The name derives from the Italian root fuso which means "fused " or "melted." As the pasta dough is formed into fusilli calabrese , friction between the table and knitting needle cause the dough segments to twist and fuse up and around the needle. The noodle seems to almost melt around the tool while taking its shape.
Give it a try!
To make this type of pasta, roll the dough into a long, skinny rope and then cut segments 2-3 inches in length. Place a small-guaged metal knitting needle on top of one segment of dough. Place both hands over the knitting needle and dough and rub vigorously a few times against a table. The dough will flatten and curve around the needle, gradually thinning and growing until it is the entire length of the needle. When you slide the newly formed fusilli calabrese noodle off the needle, you have a twisted tubular noodle.
While it can't technically be called maccheroni al ferretto, the noodles I formed with a chopstick have the look and taste of fusilli calabrese, just with a wider tube circumference.