Pasta holds a revered place in culinary traditions worldwide, with consumption spanning over 200 countries. In Italy, pasta reigns supreme, with an average consumption of 23 kg per capita annually, showcasing its integral role in the Mediterranean diet.
However, not all pasta is created equal; its quality hinges on factors like the grains used, cultivation methods, and the intricacies of production and drying techniques.
In contemporary markets, a plethora of pasta options abound, ranging from industrial to artisanal, egg to egg-free, and dry to fresh, crafted from various types of semolina or whole-wheat flour.
When it comes to selecting pasta, the artisanal route is to be favored for its adherence to traditional practices and reasons that range from sustainability, and taste, to health. Local to Florence is Pastificio Fabbri, a small family-run pasta producer nestled in the heart of the Chianti Classico region, steeped in heritage since 1893. Their commitment to time-honored methods, including a slow drying process lasting from 3 to 6 days at controlled temperatures, and the utilization of historic 'bronze dies', sets them apart.
We at Grape Tours feel very strongly about supporting small artisans, so we have often visited Pastificio Fabbri and are happy to share some of the secrets behind their artisanal pasta excellence:
Slow Drying: While modern industrial processes prioritize speed and efficiency, artisanal pasta makers like Fabbri maintain the art of slow drying. This preserves the pasta's essential proteins and starches, resulting in a superior texture and nutritional profile, with each bite retaining the essence of real wheat.
Bronze Dies: Step into Fabbri's pasta factory, and you're transported to a veritable pasta museum. Antique machines dating back to the early 1900s, coupled with iconic bronze dies, create pasta with a unique porous texture, ensuring optimal sauce absorption and a delightful culinary experience.
100% Italian and Organic Grains: Pastificio Fabbri sources only the finest 100% organic Italian ancient grains, eschewing genetically modified varieties in favor of authentic flavors and nutritional benefits. Their meticulous milling process, carried out by trusted local mills, ensures the integrity of the grains remains uncompromised.
So surely now we want to cook up a beautiful plate of slow-dried spaghetti (n. 4 - so good!) But before indulging, let's dispel some common myths surrounding pasta:
Cooking Time: Contrary to popular belief, 'al dente' pasta is not only more flavorful but also more digestible, as it requires thorough chewing, aiding in digestion.
Weight Gain: Pasta, when consumed in moderation and as part of a balanced diet, does not contribute to weight gain. Studies show that it can even lead to slight weight reduction due to its lower glycemic index and satiating fiber content.
Dinner Consumption: Enjoying pasta at dinner is not taboo. The key lies in overall dietary balance and the quality of carbohydrates consumed throughout the day.
Cooking Water Myth: Adding oil to cooking water does not prevent pasta from sticking. Vigorous stirring and ample water are the best allies against clumpy pasta.
Draining Water: Retaining some cooking water when draining pasta facilitates sauce integration, enhancing flavor and consistency—a technique known as 'mantecare' in Italian cuisine.
Armed with these insights, we hope next time you go grocery shopping you may seek out artisanal pasta and savor each forkful of tradition, flavor, and nourishment. And surely the next time you are in Florence you can elevate your pasta experience to new heights by paying a visit (which must be booked in advance) at Pastificio Fabbri.