Nonna di Giulia is a very organized, structured cook. Before embarking on any endeavour all ingredients are neatly laid out in readiness of the task at hand. I am under no illusion that many of you, if anyone reading this post will run off to the kitchen to make their own pasta after seeing the photos. Indeed, I would hasten to discourage you from trying, unless you can get your hands on the proper flours. Without the right ingredients, all effort is for nought, at least that has been my experience. In the past I tried making pasta using regular white flour, the 00 kind wasn’t available back then, eggs and water, I huffed and I puffed and I rolled out using the pasta maker that I have since banished to the basement, where it leads a lonely existence, next to the Idli steamer, I brought back from India, and the ravioli press which I bought when I was planning to recreate some delicious pumpkin ravioli (made with amaretti and served with a delicious pistachio creme sauce, or was it walnut sauce, hm, either way it was amazing, that I had eons ago in Maryland back when government employees had to be in in the mornings in case you were wondering). But once again I digress as my thoughts chase after snippets of food memories like a greyhound hunting a hare, and so back to Nonna di Giulia and pasta made in Apulia.
On a very large marble table, that has been in your family for almost a century, and on which more than one generation of women has made pasta, and is ideally set outside in your garden under an azure sky and jasmine flowers set out your ingredients.
Semolina flour – ground very, very fine, but still with grittiness to it that you won’t find in white flour. Also have some 00 flour at hand. Make a big heap of semolina flour on your workspace and add in some 00 flour. The ratio is 5 parts semolina flour to 1 part 00 flour. Add in some water, ideally filtered, so that it isn’t hard. Then you knead and you knead until you have made a wonderful smooth dough, add water as you go if needed, but be circumspect, takes a while to incorporate the water, don’t be too generous.
Then take a piece of dough and start rolling it into a disc, the kind of task that anyone who does meditation will relish. You roll and you roll and you sprinkle with semolina flour to keep your rolling pin rolling, the surface of the dough will be slightly gritty like ultra-fine sandpaper (if the sand were irregularly spaced).
Or if you want to have nice straight strips you can use a “mattarello per tagliare” – which sounds like matador, but is unrelated I would think :). So the mattarello (rolling pin) for tagliare (for cutting) helps you make straight strips, you then need to cut the strips into separate pieces using a knife. You then take each piece into your hands hand and roll it – in order to do this you need to pinch one end and then roll from that end forwards. See below. This looks easy, but trust me it isn’t:
And then you bring the ends to together and lay them on paper plates where you let them dry for 1 hour max. 2 hours, not more, or they will dry out. You can then pop by and watch them drying and looking forward to eating them. Then you cook them as you would any other pasta. You then serve the pasta with a tomato sauce that you made with 2 kgs fresh tomatoes at 5am when you got up!