As thin as an angel’s hair: Maccheroncini di Campofilone
Unbelievably fine, handmade pasta. Designated with a PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) with a (handmade) tradition still going strong today.
Maccheroni (plural Maccheroncini) is a kind of pasta made in Fermo, in the Marche region of central Italy. It is perhaps the thinnest pasta known; rolled out to between 0.3 and 0.7mm before being finely sliced. It’s then boiled either in water or directly in a sauce for around one to two minutes. The pasta is made by kneading together plenty of eggs with semolina, and is unique for being made without even a drop of water.
Around seven to ten eggs to one kilogram of semolina is used. Due to the amount of eggs, the pasta is left for a considerable length of time to dry, but the end result is a fresh and rich-tasting product. Similarly handmade pasta weighs around 250g on average and produces enough for two portions, but maccheroni tends to produce enough for four. Its thinness means that it can be mixed with sauce much more thoroughly when compared to other pasta.
Maccheroni’s success lies in the hands of the women who produce it, affectionately referred to as “vergare (housewives/mistresses)” in the local Marche dialect. Even now the factory continues to preserve the traditional manufacturing methods that have been passed down and inherited from generation to generation. Campofilone is a small town with a population of a mere two thousand souls, with seven factories devoted to making maccheroni. The small town of Campofilone is the sole producer of this superfine pasta, and as such they have been granted PGI status (Protected Geographical Indication) by the European Commission.
The factories have been holding markets for selling Maccheroni in the local area since the 1960s, but now its sale extends beyond Italy’s borders, and is used by certain high-end restaurants. Some of the producers have even started selling online, and even some supermarkets have started placing orders. The manufacturers strive to maintain the quality of their product, and through supplying high-end vendors with their pasta, they are establishing a unique wholesale market.
Since 1964, the local Forma Tourism Board has held a festival in August based around the town’s unique pasta. The festival’s centrepiece is the moment when the pasta is mixed with a ragù (meat sauce) that has been strewn across a large wooden table, upon which the freshly-boiled pasta is spread, and then lifted and tossed thoroughly into the sauce.