In the old times, let’s say until the 50’s or even the 60’s, my mother tells me that every day they made their own fresh pasta at home. 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 in those times, 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 used to feed the family.
Sunday was a special day! It was the day of pasta with tomatoe sauce, also called “pastasciutta”, it was the day of the “maccarruna”!
As every day the housewife would get up very early to prepare the dough and with the help of the other components of the family would have then made the delicious “maccarruna”.
Today this tradition is being replaced by using modern pasta-making appliances or even buying fresh pasta. In my opinion, it’s not the same thing. Let’s call it appraisal of imperfection. Hand made “macarruna” are never perfectly the same in size and shape, and this is what makes them so deliciously intriguing.
I still enjoy making “maccarruna” for family and friends and having my guests involved in the making, is a nice way to spend some time together. At least four people are necessary to hold the large wooden pastry board on their laps and make the “maccarruna”. Others cooperate 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 set the flour and in the center place the eggs, salt and some water. Start mixing with your fingertips collecting the flour around 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 3or 4 inch pieces then roll each piece onto a very thin straw-like rod and roll on the board until it becomes thin. Extract the “maccaruni” twirling the rod, then place on the table cloth.
Cook as regular fresh pasta, then drain and serve with your favorite tomatoe sauce.