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The “Maccheroncini di Campofilone”

Luigi Silvestri

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Campofilone is a small town, one of the many throughout the region that dot the landscape, perched on a hill, not too far from the sea. Yet, Campofilone is well-known in all of the best restaurants of the world, known for its pasta, for its “maccheroncini”.

The origins of this pasta go back to the ancient art of making egg-dough pasta by hand, in the home, a common practice of every woman in households of the past. But these maccheroncini have a special feature: they are made from only eggs and wheat flour, without the addition of water.

To be even more precise, the proportions are ten eggs per kilo of flour. At one time, families used tender wheat flour, but nowadays, in order for pasta to keep longer, durum wheat semolina is preferred. The egg dough is rolled out paper thin and allowed to dry for several hours, until it is ready to be folded over upon itself and cut into thin strips. The maccheroncini are so thin as to look like “angel hair” and thus, cook very rapidly in boiling water, in just one or two minutes' time, at most.

Historical documents dating far back in time make references to this particular kind of pasta. In written texts from 1560 it was described as “so thin as to melt in the mouth”. In the centuries that followed, these maccheroncini appeared on the tables of the richest families alone, because the poorer population could not afford egg pasta every day (it was eaten only on special occasions or feast days during the year). Today, several pasta manufacturers produce the maccheroncini, although they are all small enterprises, halfway between an artisanal business and a small industry.

Great attention is paid to the raw materials; the flour must come exclusively from Italian wheat, the eggs must come from hens raised on GMO-free grain and must be used fresh, within 72 hours of being laid. The drying process tries to reproduce the home environment of the past as faithfully as possible, when kitchens were heated by a fireplace and the pasta was left to dry slowly.

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