Saturday, June 4, 2016

Pasta Grannies + Torchio

Regular readers of A Serious Bunburyist know that I celebrate all things torchio. My maiden post (here) shared a dough recipe that I developed for my new Venetian pasta press because, after buying my torchio (here), I found relatively few torchio-related pasta recipes in cookbooks or on the Internet. So I began to experiment with semolina, tipo 00 and extra-fine durum flour and different flour-to-liquid ratios to make a dough that consistently worked in a torchio. Well, things have come a long way since my first post in 2010: you can now learn how to use a torchio to make bigoli, gargati and other pasta shapes from excellent pasta-centric cookbooks such as Thomas McNaughton’s Flour + Water Pasta. You can also now find excellent torchio-related information on a myriad of websites and even glean useful torchio tips on social media apps such as Instagram (of all places!).

Being a torchio evangelist, I want to share a fascinating new video created by Vicky Bennison for her Pasta Grannies project ( Bennison and her team travel across Italy filming women using traditional pasta-making techniques that are at risk of disappearing with the passing of a generation. The following video features a group of Sardinians using a torchio to make a long, tubular pasta called sos cannisones.

I find this video really interesting because it shows a different approach to making pasta with a torchio than I typically employ. While I primarily use a blend of wheat (sometimes adding Extra Fancy Durum) flour, the Sardinians in the Pasta Grannies video use semolina. I use whole eggs enriched with egg yolks to make my dough; the Sardinians use water. I experiment with different flour-to-liquid ratios with the aim of achieving a very firm, quasi-pliable dough that does not stick when extruded. The sos cannisones in the video come out of the torchio so soft that a pasta grannie can easily cut it off her press with a karate chop. The grannies then dry the pasta by carefully placing the long, soft tubes, one-by-one, on linen sheets so as to avoid the pasta from touching.

I marvel at the wide, diverse world of pasta making. Thanks to Pasta Grannies for sharing the skills of these expert pasta makers with the rest of the world so that we can learn and carry on their culinary craft. You can subscribe to upcoming Pasta Grannies videos on its YouTube channel.