Manufactured in workshops in Gragnano, Italy, by passionate, dedicated craftspeople in a time-consuming process, the pasta is truly a work of art. This small town on the Gulf of Naples is both the centre and the place of origin of a dish that symbolises the traditions and identity of Italy like no other. This is the place where pasta was invented. A national treasure. And best made fresh by an Italian mamma. Or else by a family-run company that uses a recipe passed down for generations to create a dough from high-gluten flour and water that is then run through a pasta machine before drying slowly. There are more than 250 varieties on offer. Everything from ditalini, fettuccine and pappardelle to spaghetti, fusilli and penne.
Historians do not agree on exactly when pasta was first invented. As early as ancient Rome, there were methods of creating the first dough-based foods similar to pasta, but its ‘modern’ form can be traced back to the 16th century, with macaroni being the earliest shape. The meticulous bronze die-cutting process is what sets this pasta apart from industrially manufactured mass-market products. This process gives the pasta a rougher surface texture ideally suited for soaking up delicious sauces, which in turn makes the eater’s experience that much more extraordinary. Every bite of pasta that has been produced with a bronze die is an experience that you will want to take the time to savour. Expert manufacturing processes ensure that every piece will achieve the perfect al dente level of doneness. Over the centuries, this ancient process has never lost its relevance; even today, it is an important part of the slow-food movement. And these high standards for quality also apply to the ingredients, of course: Only the best high-gluten wheat flour, which is guaranteed to be glyphosate-free and grown in Italy, is used in the dough, in combination with soft mountain water from local Monti Lattari. Local producers in Gragnano have organised themselves into the Consorzio di Tutela della Pasta di Gragnano IGP in order to ensure that these quality standards are maintained. The requirements are strict: the dry pasta must have a straw-yellow colour, homogeneous texture, ‘glassiness’ upon breaking, long tolerance during cooking...and, of course, no signs of a gluey texture. The drying times and temperatures, moisture levels and nutritional value are all pre-defined. Some pastifici (pasta manufacturers) give their customers the opportunity to trace the origins of the grano duro (durum wheat) via information on the packaging, which establishes a great level of transparency and trust. No wonder, then, that many manufacturers at this level are considered premium suppliers. For example, Pastificio Di Martino has entered into an extensive collaboration with Dolce & Gabbana. The company manufactures more than twelve moulds in the classic D&G design; it also offers high-quality metal gift boxes for special occasions. Gragnano, the ‘Città della Pasta’, has spread la dolce vita around the world thanks to its invention. Enjoying a dish of this special pasta, you might even imagine you are in Belpaese yourself – if only for a moment. Grazie!