On my trip to Italy in May, 2018, I visited the FELICETTI pasta plant outside of Trento in Italy’s north. I had never been there before. At 110 years old, this family held and run company was founded and is still located at Predazzo, in the Val di Fiemme. Felicetti makes a very large range of pasta, including several from different wheat selections, also Khorasan-Kamut, and Farro. These are called the “Monograno.” Pasta is a foodstuff made with grain, usually wheat and water. Felicetti uses water from the Latemar source at 2000 meters in the Dolomites and it is claimed that, just as much as the wheat used, the water is likewise very important.
While going through the plant, we came upon a press which was processing a curious cut of pasta. I stopped to look at it and it was a little animal, a duck. Back in Felicetti’s showroom, I saw the packages containing the same cut. The cuts were little animals, ‘animali della fattoria” six farm animals: a duck, sheep, fish, horse, pig, and rabbit. It was children’s pasta, the pasta that is usually put into broth, and usually given to children to keep them amused. I asked if it were for sale and was told that it had never been introduced to the U.S.. It went to Japan. So, I immediately asked for these cuts to be sent to us, since they are so cute as to be something that will not only keep children amused, it will also amuse us “older” children.
The cut is very elegant since it is a two dimensional, outline representation of the animal, not just a flat image. There is also alfabeto pasta. This is about the same size cut, again, two dimensional outline, not just a flat cut, but looking like a cutout of a letter of the alphabet–all 26 of them. Its style is that of a “college” letter, called “college block.” Both of these cuts are organic and made with Italian wheat milled in Italy.
When it comes to seeing food on a plate, sometimes we are all children at heart. Although this “pastina,” as these cuts are called, are normally served in broth, they can also be served with a thin sauce, either something like Giuliano Hazan’s Tomato Sauce or if you have been provident, your own homemade tomato sauce that you have frozen, or the juices from a leftover stew.
The important thing is that the sauce not be chunky. Simply cooking the pasta in water until tender and dressing with the sauce and a bit of cheese, you have a very quick dish that will be both pretty to look at and fast--simple cooking that will satisfy not only the inner child. And if you want to be a food archeologist, you could serve the FELICETTI animali and alfabeto as they were served before the invention of tomato sauce--just with some nice, cold butter and grated cheese, “in bianco.”