If you’ve ever experienced the luxury of eating fresh, handmade pasta, you know that it differs quite a lot from the dried and boxed stuff you get at your local supermarket. Even the more high-end options lack that Italian nuance present in an authentic pasta dish. The best of the best in the past world hails from Gragnano, a city tucked against the foot of Monte Lattari near the Amalfi coast. What makes this pasta so special? Keep reading to learn more.
A Brief History of Pasta
Before we delve into Gragnano pasta, let’s first discuss the beginnings of pasta to later see what makes it superior. Pasta is claimed to have been invented by the Chinese many thousands of years ago. The famous adventurer Marco Polo is said to have introduced pasta to his home country of Italy after a visit to China in 1271. Italy took to the invention and recreated it using local ingredients and techniques.
Since then, several regions in Italy have begun specializing in different types of pasta and versions of pasta dishes. Typically, pasta is made from durum wheat flour, also called semolina and mixed with water. Eggs may also be used for a thicker, heartier pasta. The dough is mixed and then laid out into sheets, where it is then formed into its intended shape. It can also be filled, like ravioli, or layered for lasagna.
What Makes Gragnano Special
The city of Gragnano is said to make the best pasta in the world. This is mostly due to the city’s unique positioning. Because it sits next to a mountain, the air is generally cool. The unique mixture of sun, humidity, and wind in the region combine to form the right conditions for growing a superior wheat product.
Gragnano was linked directly to Naples in 1885 by way of a railroad line, meaning the pasta was able to be shared throughout Italy. It has since escaped the borders of Italy and is a favorite around the world.
As mentioned above, Gragnano pasta is unique to the region because of the wheat that is grown there. Even though the wheat is the same species as wheat used in other areas of the country, it is the particular combination of natural elements that allow the wheat in Gragnano to be of a higher quality for pasta-making.
Once the dough is made, using a fastidiously created process used for hundreds of years, it is passed through bronze molds. The molds must be made from bronze, as this lends the pasta a rougher texture than normal. The rough texture is crucial to help the sauce cling to the noodles, which will enhance the eating experience.
After the pasta is shaped, it is left to dry slowly in the cool mountain air. This prevents it from drying too quickly, resulting in cracks and breaks. The noodles should then be cooked al dente, as overcooking could result in rubbery or mushy pasta.
Tasting authentic, handmade Italian pasta is an experience that everyone should have in their lives. While it may not be possible to take a trip to Italy when you have the craving, a visit to Assaggio can offer you the same exquisite and legitimate Italian pasta.