Inimitable Gragnano PGI pasta – Italian Cuisine

Inimitable Gragnano PGI pasta

It's the only one pasta in Europe to be protected as IGP (Protected geographical indication) by the EU. And probably also the one with the smallest production area: only 15 km square. A double record of which the inhabitants of Gragnano they are proud, because it recognizes the secular pastoral tradition of this Neapolitan country, narrow between the Lattari Mountains and the Tyrrhenian Sea, along what has been called "the valley of the mills". It is precisely this geographical position that made it capital Italian pasta: since ancient times the abundant water of the many springs in the mountains was channeled to feed the many mills destined for the grinding of semolina, which then came worked in dozens and dozens of small family-run pasta factories. THE "Macaroni" they were then left to dry in the open, lying in the sun like the laundry also on the main course of the country, taking advantage of the particular microclimate, from the mild temperatures and the high rate of humidity dictated by the encounter between the currents coming from the sea and the mountains. In this way a pasta was obtained that could "hold up" the long months of travel in steamer, without losing in quality, necessary to arrive even in the United States. And bring the name of into the world Gragnano and the taste of Italian cuisine.

PGI to protect tradition and quality
It is therefore an absolutely natural "recipe", expression of the genius loci, the one that made Gragnano pasta famous, bringing it to the tables more discerning, like that of the Bourbons in Naples, also thanks to one of the first lines railway of the peninsula. And it is a "recipe" impossible to replicate elsewhere. As attested by the IGP seal – a hand holding a bundle of gold-colored ears of corn on a blue background – present on each package: is the warranty of the link with the territory and compliance with the production rules indicated in the disciplinary filed with the EU. How do the 14 local pasta factories that adhere to the Consortium for the protection of Pasta di Gragnano IGP. Small companies crafts and large producers share the defense of local tradition but also jealously keep their business secrets. Let's see discover (at least) some.

Quality semolina and spring water. And nothing else
Semolina of durum wheat and water: the miracle of pasta and its countless formats (an estimated one hundred) is all here. Obviously, then, that to get a product excellent serve a quality durum wheat and awater fresh spring, combined with the mastery of pasta makers, which are handed down the knowledge from generation to generation (in fact in the pasta factories of Gragnano the work passes from father to son).
To keep its fame high, Gragnano PGI pasta can only be produced with semolina of high-grade durum wheat protein (which is selected all over the world) and with a maximum of 30% of water local stratum. To give it the desired shape (the most traditional is the fusillo al ferretto) only the traditional bronze dies are used, which give it the characteristic rugosity. Great care is also devoted to another very delicate step: drying, which can be carried out both continuously and discontinuous, but that must happen slowly (up to 60 hours) and at low temperature (40 to 80 ° C), so that the dough remains elastic and have a good and long cooking time. And keep the perfume and the taste of ripe wheat.

A premium pasta that has won over chefs and gourmets
Packaged within 24 hours of production, the pasta of Gragnano Igp it has an annual production of around 52 thousand tons, which 38% are sent around the world. The rest is distributed in Italy, both in stores of specialty food is in many chains of modern distribution, where it is sold under the brands of the producers or those of the distribution chains. Although the most interesting and fun way to buy it is to go directly to the pasta factories of Gragnano, which open their doors to visitors (for information you can contact the Consortium for protection) or participate in the traditional Pasta Festival, which animates the town in October and which allows you to go even to discover the valley of the mills. In any case, buy it at the factory, at supermarket or at the discount store, it remains a pasta of high end, inserted among the "premium", those that are going for the most and have increasing sales. In fact, in 2018 purchases of Gragnano pasta PGI have increased by almost 10%. This pasta does not end only in our homes but also in the kitchens of many famous chef. Starting with Alfonso Iaccarino who made Gragnano spaghetti seasoned with fresh tomato fillet flat-flag. A recipe that has also won the diffident Pellegrino Artusi. Because of its digestibility, the "father" of Italian cuisine even defined it "Balsamic pasta". Over time the name became "Pasta barzanella" but the recipe has remained the same. And the pleasure of eating it as always.

Manuela Soressi
October 2019


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