Could fresh pasta help you live to a hundred?
- Credit: Jennifer Cauli
Could traditional recipes from Sardinia's famous 'blue zone' help us to achieve longevity?
Tufnell Park siblings Marco and Jennifer Cauli hail from the Italian island with one of the world's highest number of centenarian men.
And it was while food and travel photographer Jennifer was researching a book of interviews and recipes with elderly islanders that she got the idea for a pasta business using traditional recipes and techniques.
Semolina Pastificio features some of their mum's recipes and the no-egg pasta the island is famous for. The delivery menu includes culurgiones, Sardinia's notoriously difficult to make pleated ravioli filled with potato, pecorino, mint and garlic; Sardinian gnocchi or malloreddus made with saffron and served with a ragú of fennel pork sausage and tomatoes, and Angelottos, a large ravioli filled with chard and pecorino.
Not only was their mum a fresh pasta cook, but Marco is a pizza chef of 15 years who makes the pasta by hand, and rolls the gnocchi on a wooden board.
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"In Sardinia we don't use eggs in pasta, only semolina and water," says Jennifer. "The taste is a bit more subtle, the texture is different, more hearty and healthy.
“This is the food of our youth. My mum used to work in a local pastificio and we spent a lot of time there as teenagers before she moved on to work as a pizza chef. She always loved to cook and we were force fed!"
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Culurgiones, she says are "really difficult to make". "Not many people can get it right. It's intricate, almost like sewing a dress, you need a special movement with your hands."
Jennifer is now seeking a publisher for her book, which focuses on the diet and recipes from Sardinia's 'blue zone' one of the world's five regions with the highest number of centenarians.
"The book is about people and food. I had the privilege to interview some of the oldest people in the Ogliastra and Barbagia regions to listen to their fascinating stories and understand the traditional recipes that are also being forgotten by Sardinians.
"Scientists are not sure whether their diet is the secret to longevity, but food definitely contributes to their health - they have a good proportion of everything - nothing to excess. During the journey I thought 'I would love to showcase some of these recipes and help to raise the profile of Sardinian food in London', which is sometimes overlooked or even mistaken for the island of Sicily."
Suppliers include Drunk Cheese in Borough Market and Meat London in Tufnell Park, and the siblings hope to expand the menu to other Sardinian classics including Sebadas fried ravioli, Pratzira a focaccia with tomato basil and garlic, and lemon and orange cheesecakes Pardulas.
Meal kits start from £12, fresh pasta from £5 and there's delicious tiramisu too. Order by midday Wednesday for Friday am delivery by pushbike or electric car within a five mile radius of Tufnell Park.