Su Filindeu, dubbed as "the world's rarest pasta," is special not because of the taste: it is only made of locally-produced semolina wheat, water and salt. It is because of its majestic fabric-like appearance that only three elderly women from Sardinia, Italy know how to do.
Italy is one of the world's finest centers for great pasta. Su Filindeu -- which should be deemed a national culinary treasure -- is over 300 years old. It marks the amazing feat Italian delicacies have reached throughout history. The dish directly translates into "the threads of God."
According to Nerdist, Su Filindeu is only available in Sardinia during May or October of the year, the beginning of the Feast of San Francesco the village of Nuoro celebrates. There are no direct flights into the village from the airport; there is only a carriage ride or a lengthy hike.
In BBC Travel, BBC Correspondent Eliot Stein was lucky enough to be invited in the home of Paola Abraini, an elderly grandmother renowned by the pasta world as the only mother of Su Filindeu. Eliot Stein notes that she wakes up every single day at 7AM to practice the 300-year-old art passed down in her family for generations. She had also taught her niece and sister-in-law how to create the pasta -- both helping her to create the rarest pasta in the world.
Abraini and the two other women who know how to create the pasta have left machinists from Barilla and even celebrity chef Jamie Oliver in awe (he even learned to learn the pasta technique, but failed despite making pasta for two decades). She herself had tried to teach the pasta-making process to other families and schools -- the tradition-breaking move not bearing fruit as it was simply "too much work" for her students.
The process is simple in words: the first step is to have the dough reach a consistency of modeling clay as one works through the pasta. As per usual pasta create, the dough is cut up into smaller sections and rolled into a cylindrical shape. The challenge comes when one has to feel the elasticity and moisture of the pasta; Abraini said it has to have enough elasticity and moisture -- a process that she herself took years to understand.
According to Slow Food International "Ark of Taste" Initiative Head Coordinator Raffaella Ponzio, the preservation of the pasta-making process for Su Filindeu is "not a matter of preserving a culinary art form, but preserving a piece of cultural identity."