Ferreti: a medieval instrument for forming macaroni

I happened to notice this in one of our cookbooks, A Mediterranean Feast.

A medieval instrument for forming macaroni is still used today in Calabria. Ferrassoli or ferrazzuoli is a kind of pasta made with a device called a ferreti, a thin iron rod. A ball of dough is rolled as thick as a pencil and cut into 2 1/2 inch lengths. One kind of ferreti is an iron rod that is greased and placed lengthwise on the rolls of pasta dough and rolled back and forth, wrapping the dough around the ferreti until one has 6-inch lengths. The dough slides off the ferreti and one ends up with, depending on the diameter of the ferreti, a kind of spaghetti with a large hole in the middle — what is called perciatelli or bucatini today in most parts of Italy, or ziti, rigatoni, or macaroni. Other instruments traditionally used to make this pasta in southern Italy and Sicily have been knitting needdles and billiard cues.

Fascinating, no? I’d love to watch somebody making this kind of pasta.

Did I tell you that one of my recent New Year’s resolutions was to make pasta? Well. I did it, but it was way more work than I’d bargained for, and my pasta was horrible. Two bites, then into the rubbish it went. But hey — resolution accomplished! I have since resolved not to make any more pasta unless I find a better way.

3 thoughts on “Ferreti: a medieval instrument for forming macaroni

  1. A Mediterranean Feast is full of such fascinating details. You have to love a cookbook that devotes so much space to a discussion of the cauldron and spoon as regimental emblems of the Ottoman janissaries.

    There is, however, a feature of this book’s recipes that should, frankly, be ignored. In every recipe I have tried that calls for tomatoes, the instructions are to peel and de-seed them. This is an unnecessary fuss; worse, the seeds cannot be removed from a tomato without also losing much of the sweet gel that holds the seeds. This gel contains much of the flavour of the tomato, and throwing it away is silly.

  2. I was born in Calabria and I have seen pasta made many times with a Ferretti. In my Calabrese dialect ‘Maccarruni a ru Ferru”, or ‘Maccheroni col ferro or ferretto’. This method of making pasta is still employed today. Supposedly this method began in the province of Cosenza. At least that is what my mother tells me. She is from Consenza. I have never really verified this to be honest. I have always found that the handmade version of this pasta is more cooperative so to speak. Buccatini or other cuts of dried pasta in this style just do not want to listen to the fork. It makes for a little mess on your shirt.

    I have to say that I really appreciate the article.

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