Pasta, that wonderful creation that fills the stomach and warms the soul. Italian grandmothers spend hours rolling and stretching the dough, shaping, drying, and boiling. They then spend hours in the kitchen cooking up the perfect sauce to top it with. All to show us how much they love us! Today anyone can make home made pasta, and there are a variety of makers to choose from.
The first pasta machine marketed to the public is thought to have been created around 1935 in Italy. However, there is proof of a macaroni machine dating back to the mid 1700's. The American Treasures of the Library of Congress has a drawing and plans of a macaroni machine that Thomas Jefferson devised while touring Italy in the late 1780s.
The original pasta machines consisted of a base which typically clamped to the table or counter. A ball of pasta was pressed against a set of rollers. As the crank was turned the pasta would feed through the rollers causing it to flatten. After each pass of the pasta through the rollers, a knob on the side would allow the operator to adjust the width between the rollers. After reaching the desired thickness the operator would then remove the handle, place it on the opposite side of the machine and feed the pasta through the cutting die. The die would depend on the type of pasta desired (such as ravioli, spaghetti, or lasagna). The operator would then either immediately boil the pasta or place over hanging dowels to dry for storage and later cooking. This type of machine is still widely marketed today, and in fact is preferred by many over the electric variety.
There is very little information available concerning the first electric pasta machine. It is believed by some to have been Ron Popeil who first marketed one through a TV infomercial. The ease with which an electric machine can be used allows anyone from child to grandfather to produce home made pasta in just minutes. Generally the ingredients, beginning with flour and eggs, are added to a container. The machine is turned on and mixes the ingredients. It is then switched to an extrusion mode in which the pasta is pushed through dies to achieve the desired shape and thickness.
Manual machine are limited on the size and shape of pasta one can create. Flat pasta (spaghetti), ravioli, and lasagna are the limit unless the operator desires to shape and cut the pasta by hand. Electric machines allow a much broader selection on type and thickness, including macaroni, gnocchi, and manicotti. By purchasing additional dies, the electric maker can also be used to create sausage, cookies, breadsticks, and bagels.
Some brands of pasta machine are:
- Imperia® manual machine approximately $220
- PastaMatic® electric machine approximately $200
- OMC Marcato® Atlas® manual machine approximately $30
It is even possible to buy pasta making attachments for many brands of food processors and blenders. Additional information can be found at http://www.epicurious.com/run/fooddictionary/browse?entry_id=9476.
Information above was gathered in part at the following websites: