Weekend in Italy. Visit to two pasta factories
In our recent weekend getaway to Lecce (Italy), one of the activities that I enjoyed the most was visiting two pastures located in the vicinity of this city. Although everyone knows how much pasta means to Italians, I was impressed by the care and dedication they put into making this product.
After this visit, the bags of pasta that they gave us and that accompanied me on my return trip, have become a small treasure to which I hope to do the honors accompanied by some sauces to match.
Pastificio Del Duca
Pastifico Del Duca is in Parabita, a small town in Salento, and the first impression you receive when you see the modest place does not make you expect the passion, wisdom and elegance that this modest establishment houses. However, once inside, the beautifully designed packages displayed like jewels make you realize that you are in a special place. A hallmark of Del Duca is its flavored pasta and we find the spaghetti with lemon and pepper, the fusili with Negramaro wine, the caserecce with curry or the torchetti with cocoa.
But what really conquers is the passion of Daniele Marsano when he tells us about the Senatore Capello grain and the high protein semolina that he uses, when he proudly shows you his bronze trafilas and explains that this material is the only one that withstands pressure. exactly what the paste needs to be formed. Each part of the pasta making process has its explanation and Daniele has studied it and has come to his own conclusions, such as drying the spaghetti horizontally so that the pasta does not stretch and has the same density throughout its length. or how to adapt the drying process to the temperature and humidity conditions of each day.
The work of Daniele and his wife Gabriella in the Del Duca pastificio is totally artisanal and vocational and it shows when visiting their home and talking with them. You leave that small establishment with the feeling of having met some people who know that producing pasta is more than a business, it is contributing to the well-being of the people and the culture of their country.
Pastificio Benedetto Cavalieri
I must admit that before this trip, I did not know Benedetto Cavalieri pasta, but my travel companions, almost all of them dedicated to the sale or distribution of Italian food products, spoke of it as one of the best pasta in Italy. With that background, you can imagine my curiosity about the visit and the truth is that I enjoyed it enormously.
The Benedetto Cavalieri pastificio has a history of almost 100 years, since it was founded in 1918 by Benedetto Cavalieri to produce premium quality pasta with fine hard grain selected from the sunny hills of Puglia and Basilicata. It is currently run by another Benedetto Cavalieri, grandson of the former and who guided us on our visit.
Enthusiasm, wisdom and charm, three words that define the person who warmly welcomed us and explained the history of his factory and his family, showed us the old machine designed by his grandfather to shape pasta, he told us that they use biologically grown wheat and always from the same fields, that for each type of pasta a different mixture of semolina is used and that for kneading, shaping and drying the pasta they use the delicate method.
The Benedetto Cavalieri pastificio has been the didactic headquarters of the University of Gastronomic Sciences of Pollenzo (Piedmont) since 2005 and welcomes students from all over the world who carry out thematic stags on pasta for a week. The most emblematic products of this pastificio are the ruote pazze (crazy wheels) and the spaghetonni, although the range is very wide with 45 formats, in addition to the whole line pasta.
In short, two very different companies in size, in history and in the approach to their production, but both focused on quality and on the love of a capital product in the food and culture of Italians. And personally, the immense luck of having had the opportunity to meet two passionate people in love with their work who have made me see pasta in a very different way.