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.
I can't stop thinking about pasta. Ever since I returned from my studies and restaurant stage in Italy, I have been transforming my Oakland kitchen into a mini pastificio daily. I spend my days kneading dough by hand, rolling it into ropes, and shaping each piece of pasta over my thumb to emmulate the mamas and nonnas I watched in Puglia on a mission to recreate authentic orecchiette. While my Oakland "pasta lab" has been great for practice, there's still so much more to learn!
So my plan? I'm going back to Italy to embark on a 3-week pasta research trip during which I will visit traditional pasta-makers, wheat mills, and modern pasta production sites throughout the country.
And, I will be documenting the whole trip with anecdotes, lessons learned, technical information, and of course... many photos right here.
Presenting.... KNEAD PASTA PROJECT: A blog about pasta. Thanks for reading!
SEND YOUR HOMEMADE PASTA PICTURES IN AND I'LL ADD THEM TO THE KNEAD PHOTO GALLERY
What is 00 flour?
The "00" primarily refers to the grind size of the flour. Type 00 ("double zero") flour is an extremely finely-ground Italian-style flour that is super white in color because almost all of the wheat's bran and germ have been removed during milling.
Do I really need a pasta machine?
Absolutely not! Get out your rolling pin, or any other cylindrical household item you might have (like a wine bottle, broomstick, or a round glass jar - just be sure to clean it well first) and roll out your dough by hand.
Questions & Answers
HAVE A QUESTION ABOUT PASTA? STUMPED TRYING TO FIGURE OUT WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOUR DOUGH? WONDERING ABOUT THE HISTORY OF A CERTAIN NOODLE?
SUBMIT YOUR QUESTIONS AND I'LL DO MY BEST TO ANSWER THEM ON THE KNEAD Q&A BOARD.