The past two weeks here have been jam packed and the time has flown right by! There is so much to talk about, but I’ll stick to the highlights.
The first weeks topic was wheat, we learned to make authentic Italian pasta from scratch. Of course I have done this many times before, but never the way I did the past two days. We had a wonderful woman named Rina from the Emiglia Romagna region come to teach us how to make pasta from the north of Italy. In the northern parts, the pasta is a richer dough made with eggs or “pasta con ouvo” because in these parts of Italy, dairy is more readily available than here in Sicily. Rina is a “sfogline,” she goes all over the world to teach people her art, which is making “sfoglia” or pasta dough that is done completely by hand. By this I mean that the dough is completely rolled out by hand with a rolling pin or “matarello” and not a pasta machine. This is a serious process, but its incredible to watch her work. She works the dough with much ease, which is not exactly the way it was for us students. By the end of my turn making my dough, I was sweating, my back hurt and I needed a cocktail…or three. Regardless, it was a beautiful process to watch her work and then to follow and make our own. We made all the pasta into different shapes, tortellini, spaghetti, tagliatelle etc, and then got to eat it all in a several course pasta meal later that evening. My pasta was a spinach dough, with a ricotta, mortadella filling and was topped with a béchamel for serving. It was also my favorite, but I am a sucker for a béchamel sauce.
The next day we made traditional Sicilian pasta, which was a breeze compared to yesterdays workout. We had three wonderful women come to teach us how to make busiate, ziti and cavatelli. My favorite was the cavatelli. One of Fabrizia’s interns Rosella’s mother Anna Maria was one of the women who came to teach us the different pasta shapes along with two of her friends. They all live in one of the neighboring towns. I LOVED this day, I felt it was incredibly memorable to have an intimate experience like this to be able to make pasta with these women who grew up doing this for their own families. The following two days we made bread as discussed in a previous post. At the end of the week we had a trip to a flour mill that still uses an ancient method to mill ancient grains of Sicily. It was fascinating to see how the grains go through cycle after cycle through each machine until they become fine enough to become flour.
At the end of our tour we were greeted by the owners wife who had a table set up for us with pizza, fresh chickpea fritter panini(called pannelle) and beverages. Such hospitality was shown today and so appreciated. There is so much love, acceptance and appreciation that has been shown from our instructors, experts and teachers. There is such a pride that exists here in Sicily involving the history and subjects for which people are so knowledgeable. There is an incredible illusion that surrounds this island and its culture, and it continues to fascinate me everyday that I spend here.