Cooking

Only 3 People Know How to Make the Rarest Pasta on Earth

Imagine yourself on a pilgrimage. Traveling by foot, you and hundreds more make a rugged journey uphill in search of a singular experience. You're not having a religious awakening. You're just trying to get some pasta. But not just any pasta: it's the rarest pasta on Earth.

Sisterhood of the Secret Pasta

Su filindeu goes back at least 200 years — possibly as far back as 300. However old the recipe is, it's a family affair. For centuries, the secret has been passed down from mother to daughter in the remote mountain village of Lula. Today, the recipe is kept by three women: Paola Abraini, her niece, and her sister-in-law. These are the only people on the planet capable of creating the dish, which consists of impossibly thin strands arranged in an intricate, gauzy lattice. It's that incredibly skinny, fine structure that gives the pasta its name, which translates as "threads of God." Angel hair, eat your heart out.

To try su filindeu, you'll have to do a couple of things. First, you'll have to wait until one of the biannual Feasts of San Francesco, in May and October. Those are the only times that the women make their pasta available to the public. Next, you'll have to travel to the island of Sardinia, and then head towards the mountainous inland. The final part of your journey you need to complete on foot. It's a 20-mile (32-kilometer) trek uphill with a couple hundred fellow travelers. At the end of it, you'll be rewarded with a footbath and a bowl of rich but delicate su filindeu.

A Real Noodle Scratcher

Actually, we might be exaggerating the secrecy of the secret. It's not necessarily that the masters of su filindeu refuse to share the recipe. It's probably more accurate to say that other would-be pasta-makers just can't master it. In 2016, celebrity chef Jamie Oliver attempted to learn the technique but gave up after two hours. Abraini was willing to try to teach him, but he was in for an uphill battle because he didn't grow up learning how to make the pasta. As Abraini told the BBC, "Many people say that I have a secret I don't want to reveal. But the secret is right in front of you. It's in my hands."

The World's Rarest Pasta Is Made Entirely by Hand

Written by Reuben Westmaas March 8, 2018

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