Tag Archives: Abruzzo pasta

Two dishes, from two regions and two bisnonne… Abruzzo and Calabria

When we cook the same dishes that our ancestors cooked it connects us to them, to our history and it also brings us back to something within ourselves that we mightn’t have thought of for some time or something we hadn’t yet discovered. Just the aroma of a dish cooking can release a trigger of deep memories that lets things rise up and take shape in us.

I grew up in Australia, far from where my great-grandmothers, Maddalena and Francesca lived in Italy. And yet, here I am, almost a century on, cooking the same dishes they cooked, a lovely connection to these two strong women. The dishes are maccheroni Calabrese (knitting needle pasta) and pasta alla chitarra (guitar pasta) made on a ‘chitarra box’ I got from Abruzzo. I sought to make sauces that reflected their history too. The maccheroni Calabrese (pasta rolled on a knitting needle for its shape) has a richer red sauce with melanzane and chillies that Francesca’s town of Palmi is known for. And the chitarra pasta has bitter, wild greens added to the passata, inspired by Maddalena walking hillsides near Fossa picking wild greens into her upturned apron and taking them back to cook with. It also has pecorino cheese on top because that part of Abruzzo is known for its sheep.

These dishes (pictured) are from my kitchen so they are a little rustic (as are their photos!) and mightn’t live up to those cooked by my bisnonne, but they made me feel happy and reminded me of those before and sometimes maybe that’s all we need when it comes to cooking.
Hope your next time cooking is delicious and joyful! Zoë xx

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Pasta alla chitarra…

Making pasta alla chitarra just as my Abruzzese great-grandmother, Maddalena used to make. The shoebox-sized wooden box strung with steel wires must be ‘tuned’ like a guitar (chitarra). A sheet of pasta is laid over the strings and pressed through with a rolling pin, slicing it into strips. And the pasta sauce is like the ‘gravy’ Nanna Francesca cooked (with a few extra greens I added!)

I certainly don’t use the chitarra too often unless I have a few hours to spare but it was lovely to make this and remember my grandmothers. I like how in a way cooking can bring together different generations, even after some are long gone, as only handed-down recipes can do.

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