As soon as he arrived in Milan, he took his survival kit out of his suitcase. A loaf of bread, a caciocavallo cheese and four kilos of spaghetti, for three days. 'Will it be enough?’ the king of comedy asks in Totò, Peppino e… la Malafemmena.
How can you live without it? How do you survive without it? There is only one pasta, but there are hundreds of shapes. And there are even more methods of preparation and sauces. The pasta queen of Italian cuisine, Gragnano IGP, is even celebrated with a festival, which has been held for over twenty years in the town of Gragnano in Campania.
Over 30,000 visitors with more than 15,000 portions of pasta served up for ‘Gragnano 2022’, with showcooking events featuring 18 chefs, including 16 from Gragnano and six Michelin-starred.
How can you live without it? How do you survive without it? There is only one pasta, but there are hundreds of shapes
In addition to Federico Quaranta and Monica Caradonna, well known to the audiences of Rai Uno, the festival also featured Veronica Maya, from Sorrento, one of the best-loved faces on Italian television. According to tradition, the event also brought a lot of art to Gragnano along the festively lit streets, transformed into veritable open-air stages, as well as workshops on topical issues, such as the metaverse and climate change.
It should be noted, however, that Gragnano is synonymous with unique climatic conditions: 5.8 square miles, midway between sea and mountains, where sun, wind and low humidity are optimal for gradually drying out pasta. In this idyllic patch of land alone, it is possible to produce and export all over the world the only durum wheat semolina pasta certified IGP (PGI, Protected Geographical Indication) since 2013, with a consortium of 16 local producers.
In this idyllic patch of land alone, it is possible to produce and export all over the world the only durum wheat semolina pasta
The story of Gragnano pasta goes way back in history. The guild of the Vermicellai was established as early as the sixteenth century. And today, there are still veritable pilgrimage sites linked to its production spread throughout the region.
Like Via Roma, the town's main road, remodeled in 1843 to improve its exposure to the sun and the passage of the brackish air that comes from the Amalfi coast, becoming a sort of natural dryer. Beautiful images from the time show the road colored yellow by the bamboo canes placed on trestles holding vermicelli and ziti laid out to dry.
Or like the buildings of the ancient pasta drawing machines, which have perpetuated an immutable tradition: from mixing the dough to kneading, then strictly bronze drawing which gives roughness to the surface, and finally slow drying. The Valle dei Mulini is also strikingly beautiful, a real natural park of Neapolitan hinterland, combining industrial archeology and nature. Amidst karst caves, springs and rivers, the valley takes its name from the mills that have ground the local grain since the thirteenth century, dotted for over a mile along the Vernotico river.
To conclude, we couldn’t end without a recipe: Very simple, but a guaranteed success. Calamarata di Gragnano IGP (350 grams) with Venus clams (one kilo), Vesuvio cherry tomatoes (400 grams) and flakes of spicy provolone cheese (80 grams). Buon appetito!
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