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Mulino di Gragnano Pasta: the Incredible Story

Posted by Federico Pavoncelli on

The Incredible Story

The story of the pasta factory, Il Mulino di Gragnano, started from the ideas of six young friends: Alfredo, Luigi, Agostino, Cristian, Francesca and Raffaele. They grew up in the Parish of San Leone II, located in Gragnano, Italy. They all had the same wish of being involved in their own future using their passion of the main resource of Gragnano, which is pasta.

They began with some of the friends establishing a partnership to promote pasta at various events and the rest focusing on various projects concerning the pasta sector during their academic careers. These six young friends were so different from each other but with the support of Comunita' di Progetto Policoro (Policoro Community Project), they were able to turn their dreams into reality.

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At first they faced some difficulties obtaining financial support to start the pasta factory project. Francesca and Raffaele had their part of the money but for the others, that was not the case. The families of the Parish in the community rallied together to raise the remaining part of the funds. This came in the form of an interest-free loan that would be repaid in the future.

Researchers in the pasta industry also contributed by helping them choose the most modern and efficient pasta-making machinery available in the market.

The mastery of this ancient tradition of the “white art” still lives in the unique product that gives us the pride of living in Gragnano, the world capital of pasta.

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The Pasta

I am a farmer.  I have land in the region of Puglia that produces wheat and, over the years, I have sold my wheat to many different pasta companies so I think I know pasta and I have certainly eaten my fair share of it.

When I was approached by Mulino di Gragnano and was asked to try their product I was immediately attracted by the packaging.  The retail box is unique, its shape unconventional, and the colors stand out without being overly loud.  The thickness and consistency of the box made me think right away: "...if the pasta inside is as good as their packaging, I really want to experience it".   Their formats are bold, the mezze maniche are huge, their conchiglioni are the size of those Dutch caravans that invade the Italian beach resorts in early May, and their paccheri are bigger than most.

I am a lover of short pasta so I went for the Mezze Maniche.  I had no time to make a sauce and I certainly didn't want to drive to the market to et the ingredients to make one, so I decided to have it with a little raw olive oil and a couple of Corbara Tomatoes that were give to me with the pasta samples.

The package said I should cook the pasta 8-9 minutes and finish it in the pan for an additional 2. Since I was not using a cooked condiment I cooked the pasta in lots of water for at least 12 minutes.  I love my pasta "al dente" but my family thinks I exaggerate and serve them raw pasta, so I erred on the side of caution.  I drained the pasta, drizzled some Bonamini Veneto Valpolicella EVOO and topped each mound of pasta with 3-4 raw Corbarini tomatoes.  The tomatoes were actually not raw, as they are steamed before jarring, but I didn't cook them; I just let the heat from the pasta warm them up while I gently squished them with my fork and mixed the 3 ingredients together.

In Italy, when we want to drive home the point that a pasta is exceptionally good, we always say that you can eat it without a sauce because it is so tasty.  This is absolutely true of the Mulino di Gragnano pasta.  The consistency is exceptional (even if I overcooked it by a few minutes), firm, fragrant, and it retains its elasticity and character for a long time.  I had some extra Mezze Maniche and I cooled them off with cold water, strained them, and tossed them in a bowl with a little olive oil.  That night it was still firm and great to eat.

Mulino di Gragnano pasta is a real IGP pasta from Gragnano but, regardless of credentials and certifications, it is one of the best pasta I have ever experienced.

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