HIGH QUALITY HANDMADE WHITE AND COLORFUL PASTA BY MARELLA.
This southern Italian pasta factory run by the Marella family makes pasta the way it was made hundreds of years ago: by hand. In this image you see workers from the factory holding their signature Sombreroni, or large Mexican hats, each of which was folded by hand into the shape of a conical hat. These hats can be stuffed just like Italian home cooks have been doing with ravioli, tortellini, and agnolotti for centuries. The colors are all natural, and take the spinach green, squid ink black, or hot pepper red traditional pastas a step further and combine a fantastic rainbow array of colors into one piece of pasta. This is a feat that is not simple to perform, and still have the pasta hold its shape and not come undone while cooking. Their manually processed white pasta is also equally magnificent and unsurpassable in quality and actual flavor of the pasta itself, regardless of the sauce used for serving. With these pages, we would like to bring you images and facts on the pasta production of one of the finest pasta factories in the world that is located in Puglia, one of the most important regions in Italy for pasta production and consumption.
PUGLIA - ANCIENT LAND OF OLIVES, GRAINS, AND PREHISTORIC HOUSES
Puglia is the region located in the "heel" of the geographic boot of Italy, in what is known as Magna Grecia or "Greek Italy". People here have a strong agricultural tradition and the peasant staples of the past have evolved today into some of the finest high cuisine. Tavoliere d'Italia is what the area around Foggia in Puglia is called, and this is where the wheat to make pasta is grown. This all important staple for the average Pugliese household shares importance with olive oil which is also widely produced in this region of southern Italy. The area around Bari is particularly interesting for its knarly looking ancient olive trees, some of which are more than 2000 years old!
It is in these early olive groves that the first "Trulli" were constructed. These conical prehistoric stone houses are visible today and make up entire villages in the area around Alberobello and Valle d'Itria. These interesting structures were built using the abundant calcareous flat rocks that make up the geology of the area, and were constructed like a concentric dry wall similar to the simple dry walls that are prevalent throughout southern Italy. These villages arose in areas where olive trees and sheep were tended as the staples of the early peoples here.
GIOIA DEL COLLE AND POZZO DEL RE
Nestled between Bari and Taranto, not far from the Trulli area, is Gioia del Colle, hometown of Hollywood actor Sylvester Stallone, and of Zinfandel grapes which were derived from Puglia's Primitivo grapes. The name, Pozzo del Re, or well of the king, is derived from the tradition that King Federico II had of stopping to quench his thirst after a hunt at a well that was located near the factory today. This modern day artisan pasta factory uses select grains and slow processing techniques that create a pasta that is probably among the best that we can find on the market today. The history of pasta is very interesting. Marco Polo introduced pasta from the Orient, but this was the perishable, soft kind of pasta. Today people in Italy still make fresh pasta as per family tradition, using regular wheat flour, eggs, and water. The preserved and packaged pasta made of simple durum wheat flour and water that we are all familiar with through our local grocery store was introduced to Italy by the Arabs in the 1100s through their invasions of Sicily, as depicted in this tile scene on the side of a building in Italy. Genovese sailors carried this kind of pasta to the north where it was diffused from the markets of Genova to the rest of Italy.
ARTISAN PASTA TODAY
In the 1600s Naples was in the throes of a tremendous economic depression. Reversing the tide of the times was a Neapolitan industrial revolution featuring the high speed production of pasta using a machine that pressed the flour and water mix through a ?die? that would extrude pasta with different shapes, depending on the type of die used. This industrial process is still used today by pasta factories everywhere to obtain the pasta we know that comes in the familiar shapes of penne, rigatoni, and spaghetti, something we cannot accomplish at home. Marella pasta & Pozzo del Re has brought the technique several steps further to make a pasta that is so fabulous that perhaps one of the best ways to serve it is with a simple butter and parmesan cheese, or garlic and oil, just to fully savor the texture and flavor of this pasta. One of our customers who has discovered our Marella pasta exclaims, "It's like eating real food for the first time!" The quality of the locally grown durum wheat and the actual method employed by the Pozzo del Re Factory are the most important aspects of the pasta production. Unlike other pasta factories that may pass the pasta through the dye repeatedly, Pozzo del Re has a minimal number of passes through the die giving the pasta remarkable strength while preserving the structural integrity of the proteins and glutens.
Whether making white pasta or colorful pasta containing dehydrated natural dyes extracted from spinach, tomatoes, red beets, tumeric, pepper, or squid ink, the pasta dough goes through the same extraction process using a bronze dye. Large industrial pasta factories uses a more resistant teflon coated steel dye which gives the pasta a smooth white look. Artisan pasta is extruded through a bronze dye giving the dried pasta a rough texture to better hold the sauce, and yellowish powdery appearance making it look more like real food. The use of this kind of dye works in conjunction with the drying method by Pozzo del Re in order to yield a pasta that will swell up to amazing size and have its own unique flavor. Depending on the type of pasta, the extruded shape is allowed to dry for 20 to 48 hours at the low temperature of 29-33 degrees Celsius, unlike industrial pasta which is dried at a 90-95 degrees for a short time. This allows the large industry to pump out large amounts of pasta in a short time, pasta that will have an unnaturally longer shelf life, but also 40% less lysine (an essential amino acid) and the formation of a protein reticulum that holds in more starch (more carbs) when cooking this lesser quality pasta. Drying at a low temperature for several days ensures that the drying flour matrix forms with large open pores, thereby yielding more easily digested carbohydrates, and a pasta shape that will absorb water with great efficency while cooking, swelling up to several times its dry size after boiling! Furthermore, this slow drying process at a low temperature favors a chemical reaction that lowers the pH of the pasta itself, giving it a unique and delicious flavor.
EAT PASTA - LIVE BETTER!
Follow the social conviviality of Italian society and eat pasta with your friends for a healthy, and festive gathering! What can be more fun and better for you and your social life than to serve spinach and ricotta stuffed and oven baked Sombreroni pasta by Pozzo del Re? Sounds complicated? It actually isn't, and when you buy this pasta it comes with simple to follow instructions. Another remarkable quality of this pasta is the colors, and the close proximity of the layers of different colors, giving it a magical, playful and attractive rainbow design whose colors will not fade or come undone at the joints. We have several recipes that we recommend for these pastas and that you can find in our RECIPE section. Try this amazing pasta and you may find it hard to go back to your old brand!
* Organic Marella Pasta imported by Italian Harvest is a 2013 Silver sofi Award Winner for "Outstanding Product Line".