Italians are the most important consumers of pasta in the world. With a very high average per capita for year ( source: Association of Italian pasta and sweeties industries) they are on the top of the rankings but are also considered, deservedly, the best “pastai” (people who make the pasta) in the world. If you are speaking about the high quality you are speaking about Made in Italy. The reason has to be searched overall in the tradition, centuries-old experience of the farmers, of the millers up to the pastai.
In Italy the pasta has been ever obtained from durum wheat flour , the only one that allows the final product remain firm to the bite. So to have an high quality product we need to start from a good wheat with a right protein and gluten content and the right color. Finding a wheat with all this requirements is hard, so we have the ability of the pasta makers to find and mix different kinds of wheat choosing only raw materials with specific characteristics.
Another essential ingredient influences considerably the quality of the final product: the water; not only quality and purity are important but also the dosage and the temperature in the processing. The pasta maker’s skill is also to interpret as best possible the variables of the used wheat , adjusting consequently the water temperature. Lastly there is the drying process: in the past the extruded past was dried with natural warm air , today there are dedicated heated tunnels where the pasta remains for a time between 8 and 11 hours at very high temperatures
You can recognize a great pasta by the color: amber yellow, homogeneous, without dark specks that denote the use of a not pure “semolina”. During the cooking, the pasta must remain elastic and absorb water until the 150% of the dry weight.
These days’ knowledge founded on the traditions, the abundance of very good waters, the excellent wheat, a favorable climate that still today allows the open air drying of the pasta: these are the factors that made the Neapolitan pasta famous all over the world. Today the pasta produced in Campania is one of the lynchpins of the Italian food export considering that the 80% of the production is sold abroad
Choose thin shapes for little liquid sauces or for shellfish; whereas for the liquid sauces choose large shapes, like "conchiglie" or “paccheri”, that become containers; the short pasta is perfect to cook in the oven with thicker sauces.
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