Back in the day in the UK, there was spaghetti and there was macaroni, and spaghetti bolognaise and macaroni cheese (the British way!) were standard fare on every supper table—but in recent years, there’s been a pasta explosion.
Here at Campania Wines, we import the very best pasta from the region which is said to be its birthplace. Most of our supplies come from a company, based in Gragnano, south of Naples. Garofalo was certainly the first business to produce pasta commercially, granted a licence in 1789, when everyone made pasta but only for home consumption.
Those two centuries of experience have not been wasted, with second and third generation workers combining traditional artisanal methods with the efficiency provided by today’s technology. Garofalo only ever uses top quality durum wheat, choosing different flour qualities for each batch depending on the pasta to be produced, proud to consider each shape as a different pasta rather than the same pasta with a different shape. Once the flour is mixed with water, the pasta is extruded through a traditional bronze die which results in a slightly rough texture on the surface, allowing the sauce to cling to it.
For people with a gluten intolerance, we import a ‘senza glutine’ range from Rummo, launched in 2015 in the town of Benevento, and made from brown rice, white and yellow corn by another family business with 160 years of pasta passion and experience. We defy anyone to tell the difference between this pasta and durum wheat pasta once it’s cooked.
Now, the variety: did you know that more than 1200 names have been identified for different shapes and sizes of pasta? You do now! Italians have highly complex standards for pairing exactly the right sauce with the correct pasta shape. Here are some of those we sell:
Spaghetti—thin string or twine—for light seafood and cream-based sauces. (Surprisingly, NOT for bolognese if you want to be authentic.)
Linguine—little tongues—seafood or pesto
Bucatini—pierced, tubular spaghetti—hearty sauces, like Amatriciana which it slurps up greedily
Penne Ziti Rigate— ridged pen nibs made by spinsters (thought to originate from the occasions ladies with no husbands made penne instead of attending Mass!)—cream, tomato, bolognese, pasta bakes
Fusilli—spindles, originally made by wrapping spaghetti round knitting needles—lighter, smoother sauces like pesto which will adhere to the twists
Casarecce—home-made, a twisted tube originating from Sicily—pesto, chunky tomatoes, aubergines, cheese and basil
The strangest pasta name I’ve come across is strozzapreti—the name translates as priest stranglers. Why? Who knows. One theory is that greedy priests loved it so much that they gulped it down too quickly and choked themselves to death.
Safety warning: please don’t try this at home! But please do try our lovely range of pasta, both traditional and gluten-free. Why not start with a La Fabbrica Della Pasta Holiday Supplies Pack? A mouth-watering multiplicity of pastas, with passata and wooden spoon included—delicious for you or perfect for a gift, if we dare to think ahead to Christmas. Buon appetito!