Cooking Class: Grandma's orecchiette
“I have always made orecchiette for my family. Teaching others to make them is an honour!” - Anna
Leave for a journey in search of the culinary symbol of Puglia: the orecchiette pasta. We will discover which grains and techniques to use to make that unique shape of hand-made pasta. Then, of course, we will eat what made together.
We will discover the history of the orecchiette pasta choosing the best grains and using the tools of the Pugliese women. We will work the dough, made of water and flour, and give the pasta that unique shape. We will try everything made and store this art with us forever. In a not distant time, every morning, down the town’s alleyways and in the countryside’s farms, magic took place: the making of fresh, homemade pasta “Stacciodde” and “Strascinate.” Durum wheat flour, water, and salt are the only things needed to make one of the symbolic masterpieces of Puglia. The women have wooden platters on their laps, and with the simple pressure of their thumbs, give life to a concave form; rough on the outside and smooth inside. The origins of this pasta, however, are not well known, but it is clear that Puglia stores its secrets and the tastiest recipes of the world. Orecchiette made with common wheat flour demonstrate that history and tradition can create unique products: the most impoverished Pugliese families, since they could not afford the flour that came from the first harvest of the grains, had to please themselves with the leftovers of the fields. As this grain spent more time under the sun, it took on a darker color almost as if it was burnt. There is still no answer to the origin of the Orecchiette shape. Some say it is the Trullo house shape, the symbol of the region. Others suggest that the pressure of the thumb together with the “dragging” of the dough along the wooden platter speeds up the work of the women who, at dawn, had to make the pasta for their numerous family. Everyone, however, agrees that the name comes from the shape of the ear.