In the old days, let’s say until the 50s or even the 60s, my mother tells me that they made their own fresh pasta at home every day. Quite a job, I should say! But in the past being a “matri ri famigghia” (mother of the family) or as we say now, a homemaker, was a very hard task!
Of course, at the time, middle class homes were smaller without fancy furniture and accessories to clean, but housekeeping was really tough.
Every day it was necessary to knead the dough and roll out thin sheets that would then be rolled up and cut into narrow strips called “tagghiarini” or “tagliatelle” in Italian. This was the shape of pasta used with vegetables, beans or whatever other humble ingredient designed for feeding the family.
Sunday was a special day! It was the day of pasta with tomato sauce, also called “pastasciutta”, it was the day of the “maccarruna”!
As usual the housewife would get up very early to prepare the dough and, with the help of the other members of the family, they would make the delicious “maccarruna”. Each maccarruni was made one by one but the task wasn’t arduous because their hands worked fast and time was spent in catching up on the gossip.
Today, this tradition is being replaced by modern pasta-making appliances or even the purchase of fresh pasta. In my opinion, it’s not the same thing – let’s call the praise of imperfection. Hand made “macarruna” are never exactly the same size and shape, but this is what makes them so deliciously intriguing.
I still enjoy making “maccarruna” for family and friends and getting my guests involved in the making process. It’s a nice way to spend some time together. At least four people are needed to hold the large wooden pastry board on their laps and make the “maccarruna”. Others cooperate by collecting the pasta and neatly aligning them on the table. Team work…that’s it!
For anyone interested, here’s the recipe for the maccarruna.
- 150 gr./person bread flour
- 1 or 2 eggs for each Kg. of flour
- A pinch of salt
- Water (quantum sufficit)
On a large pastry board, create a flour mound and in the center place the eggs, salt and some water. Start mixing with your fingertips by collecting the surrounding flour and adding water until you combine all the flour. Mold into a ball shape and start kneading. Continue kneading until the dough is nice and smooth. Take a piece of dough and roll into a rope shape. Cut into 3 or 4 inch pieces (7 to 10 cm) then roll each piece onto a very thin straw-like rod and roll on the board until it becomes thin. Extract the “maccaruni” by twirling the rod, then place on the table cloth.
Cook as regular fresh pasta, then drain and serve with your favorite tomato sauce.
Do you have a recipe for your grandmother’s tomato sauce? Great article. There is nothing so wonderful and unique as Sicilian food.
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