Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Chitarra pasta

Chitarra means guitar in Italian, and it is also the name for a piece of pasta-making equipment that resembles that stringed instrument (although zither would be a better match). Maccheroni alla chitarra or spaghetti alla chitarra are made by pressing a thin sheet of egg dough onto the metal strings, thus cutting the dough into strands (duh).

The resulting strand pasta is squarish in cross-section and roughish in texture--as opposed to the roundish cross-section and smooth texture you get from pasta strands that have been extruded through a round hole. It is said that the rougher edges of the chitarra-cut strands allow pasta sauce to cling better.

OK, enough food blah-blah. Here's the cool thing: The chitarra shown above is handmade in this country (Pennsylvania, to be exact) by an artisan who has been making them for over 60 years. It has a hardwood frame and steel wires set into cast-aluminum anchors; it costs $42 from Fantes Kitchen Wares Shop.

Now, for you DIY folks: Here's a little instructional from a math professor at Columbia University in NYC on how to build your own chitarra.