Federico Fellini, one of Italy’s greatest film directors, once said that “life is a combination of magic and pasta”. It’s a sentiment that describes everyday Italian life. Without pasta, life is unimaginable. It’s what allows the magical pleasures of life to unfold. It’s what makes Italians, Italian.
How Italians became pasta fanatics
Despite the importance of the nation’s favourite food, Italians haven’t always dined on huge bowls of spaghetti at the family table. As far as we know, the first reference to modern pasta is in the 13th century. Before that, Italians definitely ate fried dough, while peoples across the Mediterranean world cooked boiled dough dishes. But what we know as linguine, ravioli, fettuccine and the like didn’t arrive until much later.
By the 15th century, boiled dough had become an Italian staple, helping to keep armies and sailors fed during long voyages. However, it wasn’t until the 18th century that pasta was paired with tomato sauce. By that time, pasta chefs had started to experiment with more complex dishes. They had discovered how versatile and satisfying pasta could be, and the Italians became obsessed.
We want people across the world to discover authentic pasta
At Eataly, we share Italy’s national obsession, and we want people all over the world to experience pasta in all of its varieties. That’s why we stock products from wonderful artisan producers like Afeltra, an historical company that uses traditional techniques to create modern culinary masterpieces.
You’ll find a multitude of different shapes of pasta at our markets, from world famous varieties to more unusual forms like mafalda (which looks a little like octopus tentacles). Some of the most well-known types include:
• Fusili – with its “corkscrew” shape
• Maccheroni – tiny curved cylinders
• Penne – straight cylinders resembling the quills of ink pens
• Orecchiette – ear shaped pasta from Apulia
• Spaghetti, fettuccine and linguine – coming in long strands
• Ravioli – filled pasta parcels, often featuring beef or spinach and cheese
All of these pasta types are made in slightly different ways. For example, Orecchiette require semolina flowers and its discs are formed by hand pressing each one with a knife, while Penne are made by passing pasta through a circular shaped mould, then cutting is slantways.
Why you should always cook with handmade artisan pasta
The artisan producers we work with like Afeltra go a step further and use bronze extruders, creating a rough surface for sauces to cling to. Their Pasta di Gragnano pasta is then air dried in the Italian sunshine, creating the ideal moisture content. When you try our products, you will notice the difference between handmade, artisan pasta and mass produced brands that most people are familiar with. There’s a world of difference, and your favourite Italian recipes will never be the same again. You’ll discover a new dimension to your spaghetti carbonara and your lasagne will hold together beautifully. You’ll find out what real ravioli tastes like, while the rich tastes and aromas in your penne all’arrabbiata will finally find their perfect companion. If you haven’t already done so, pay Eataly a visit and start a culinary adventure. Our dried artisan pastas are the gateway to home cooked food that evokes the taste and texture of Italy, and we think you’ll fall in love with them.