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1.07.2012

Coming soon: 'ndunderi, a pasta that UNESCO has declared one of the most ancient types of pasta!

http://www.proloco.minori.sa.it
I recently returned from a spending Christmas and New Year's in Minori, on the Amalfi Coast. Although my husband's maternal relatives are from Minori and I have spent many a summer vacation in Minori since 1975, I never realised that this town had a great pasta making tradition.
The presence of the numerous rivers and torrents in the valleys of the Amalfi Coast opened the way to the establishment of pasta mills, in particular in Minori but also in Amalfi, Atrani and Maiori. These pasta mills manned by the so-called "maccaronari" produced the renown and much sought after "pasta from the Coast", the best in all of the Neapolitan kindgom.
The art of making pasta probably started with the Romans, in fact it was probably a Roman shepherd that made the first "pasta" in the form of little dumplings made from a mix of flour and clotted milk, the noble ancestors of today's 'nunderi, a type of pasta still made in many homes in Minori.

In the seventeenth century the "maccaronari" or pasta makers, represented almost 7% of the local working population. In this period  "ngiegni" (in English, contraptions) powered by the physical manpower were used to work the dough and make the pasta. The first types of pasta made in the pasta mills of the Amalfi Coast appeared in the mid 1600s and included  maccaroni, vermicelli and tagliatelle. In the centuries to follow, new types of pasta were made, in particular in Minori, which included 'ndunderi, ricci (curls)  and "cocce" (shells). In this same period, many "maccaronari" from Minori crossed the Lattari mountains and settled in Gragnano where they built up a pasta making industry. Today, Gragnano is still famous for its pasta factories.


Today, Minori has rediscovered its ancient pasta making roots and there are a number of small, family run businesses that make handmade fusilli, ricci, curly lasagne as well as the age old 'ndunderi, recognised by the Italian Ministry of Agricultural Resources as a "pasta to be saved". On an international level, Unesco has declared 'ndunderi to be one of the most ancient forms of pasta.

Today I made 'ndunderi for the first time and believe me, they were super easy to make!

Minori is also known for another type of pasta called "ricci" or "curls" in English.  While visiting my husband's aunt in Minori, she taught me how to make "ricci". These delicate pasta ringlets are delicious with a light tomato sauce. They are made simply of semola wheat flour and water. The pasta is rolled into a thin rope, cut into pieces from 2 to 6 inches long and then "curled" using a very fine iron rod, traditionally the spokes from an old broken umbrella!

Another pasta typical of the Amalfi Coast are "scialaitelli", made with a blend of semola wheat flour and flour, eggs, milk and basil. They are rolled out and cut like tagliatelle, but are left a bit thicker that normal tagliatelle.
Scialatielli are often served with a seafood sauce or with a tomato and eggplant sauce.

In the upcoming weeks, I am going to prepare these three types of pasta for you complete with detailed recipes so you can make them at home. There is nothing like serving homemade pasta to your family or guests if you want the compliments to flow!

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