Orecchiette: the art of pasta


The scene couldn’t be much more Italian: a Vespa, laundry in line, and women on the street making pasta. To find out which part of Italy, however, just look at the shape they make – that is, if you can see it. Nunzia Caputo’s hands are moving so fast that we slowed down the video to see her forming an orecchiette, which means “little ears”.

It’s the pasta from Puglia, an area known for its olive trees, distinctive houses called trulli, and orecchiette, that Caputo says she’s been making since she was six years old. Fortunately, she sees more art than work.

“Because you are seeing this mass transformation,” she told correspondent Seth Doane, “it’s magic in your hands.”

Nunzia Caputo creates orecchiette pasta in the streets of Bari.

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This pasta shines like a treasure in these streets where many women make orecchiette. Caputo is the fourth generation in his family to do this. Too bad there isn’t a fifth – she has sons. “The men here drink beer; they don’t make orecchiette, ”she lamented.

“What a pity!” Doane said.

Elizabeth Minchilli has written books on dining and dining in Italy, and she and her daughter, Sophie, offer visitors “one week in Italy” food tours. In the region’s capital, Bari, they stop where Caputo has settled (or, well, stage). His show offers mystery and head-shaking delights.

“There’s this woman, Nunzia, and we’ve been going there, you know, for about 20 years, buying her our orecchiette and learning how to make it,” Minchilli said.

“Can you do it?” Doane asked.

“Are we registered? ” she laughed.


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“You are used to seeing pasta made in a pastificio inside, inside. Why in the street? “

“Originally, the pasta that we think of as the original pasta was dried in the streets. It used the sun and the wind.”

Caputo said passers-by once asked his mother if they could buy pasta, and a business was born.

At Ancora Pastificio, Michele Fiore showed Doane how, in Bari, selling a single size of orecchiette would not do the trick: we counted seven, which he better have in stock if he wants to keep his customers, who would say to Fiore, “If you don’t have this little one, okay. Today, don’t eat.

“Really? Will they leave if it’s the wrong size orecchiette?”


At Ancora Pastificio, one size orecchiette pasta is not for everyone.

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When asked if we need all these different sizes of orecchiette, Minchilli replied, “Yes! Of course you have! She explained that different sizes go with different sauces.

Doane asked, “How is a type of pasta so linked to a region of Italy? “

“Well, I think it has to do with every region, every city, has its own traditions,” she said. “And they start with certain types of flour. They start with certain economics. And then they have the ingredients that go with that pasta. So in the north you have more cream and more butter and more cheese. than in the south it’s a little poorer. So you have more vegetables. “

“Where do you rank the orecchiette on your pasta list as a cook?” “

“Oh, I’m not going to go, I’m not going to weigh in on it!” Minchilli burst out laughing. “I love all pasta the same, from all regions!”

A hint of diplomacy can also be a key ingredient in a country where food is so important.

Cooking orecchiette.

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For more information:

Story produced by Sabina Castelfranco and Aria Shavelson. Publisher: Emanuele Secci.

Check 2021 Sunday Morning Recipe Index for more menu suggestions, from all of the chefs, cookbook authors, flood writers and restaurateurs featured in our program, as well as the authors and editors of New York Times Cooking.


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