Filindeu, or the “threads of God” from Sardinia
Filindeu is a very thin pasta obtained from a dough made of semolina wheat, water and salt.
In Sardinia, and more precisely in the province of Nuoro, a type of pasta is produced that is said to have been invented for the first time in the seventeenth century. These are the filindeu, literally, the “threads of God”, obtained from a dough made with semolina wheat, water and a pinch of salt, worked for a long time to bring it to a very soft texture.
A fundamental characteristic is that the dough must have elasticity, possible only by humidifying it with saltwater prepared separately. One of the secrets of those who work and produce filindeu is there is no fixed rule as to when the dough should be moistened. Not surprisingly, the production technique has been preserved by a single woman throughout Sardinia!
Once an elastic and suitably moistened dough is obtained, small portions of dough are cut, which are pulled eight times with the fingers until they form very thin threads which are laid in three layers of typical wooden trays called “su fundu”.
Once the layer of dough is made, it’s put to dry in the sun. As it dries it becomes a kind of gauze that can be broken into touches. At this point, the pasta is dipped in boiling sheep broth and cooked according to the traditional recipe. Both pasta and broth are part of the feast of Saint Francis in Lula, a secular religious tradition held in the first week of May, during which the pilgrims housed in the shelters around cumbessias (the country churches) are served a plate of pecorino broth and filindeu.
The filindeu tradition does not risk disappearing
The filindeu have become a Sardinian slow food praesidium, and in the atlas of Italian regional products is defined as follows: “Literally the veil of God, the semolina wheat and water dough from which are obtained very thin threads, similar to hair, arranged to dry in three layers overlapped and intertwined to obtain the effect of very thin gauze. They are made in the area of Nuoro on the occasion of the feast of Saint Francis of Lula, in early May: the soup prepared with sheep broth, sour cheese and chopped filindeu is the meal of the pilgrims who arrive at the shrine for the celebrations. Given also the strong symbolic link with this religious manifestation in folk culture, it is considered a miraculous pasta, to the point that refusing it would be an insult”.
The guardian of the “threads of God” is Paola Abraini from Nuoro, who learned to make filindeu from her mother-in-law at the age of 16 and taught this noble art to her daughters and relatives: currently, there are ten people in the world capable of making this type of pasta. The BBC and CNN have made various services on her, and many celebrities visit her to learn the secrets of the speciality.
We also point out other Sardinian women masters in the art of processing filindeu: Gianfranca Dettori of “Simply bread”, based in Sennori in the province of Sassari, and Anna Rita Fadda, owner of “L’arca dei sapori”, which is in the Borgo del Pane di Settimo San Pietro.
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