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Pasta Grannies

A captivating collection of films recording for posterity 'pasta nonnas' creating much loved family meals. It's a kind of Noah's Ark of traditional pasta-making techniques.

A filmmaker’s project to capture the art of handmade pasta has turned the so-called “pasta nonnas” featured in her videos into a social media sensation. Her YouTube channel featuring the “Pasta Grannies” has become a runaway hit, racking up around half a million subscribers.

Since moving to Italy’s Le Marche region, Vicky Bennison, a former international development worker - more used to dealing with management unrest in Turkmenistan or amorous builders in Siberia - has filmed more than 200 nonnas (grandmothers) over the past few years making all sorts of pasta, from gnocchi in the Italian Alps to orecchiette in Puglia.

Bennison's aim was "to travel all across Italy, meeting the brilliant women who ran households and cook for their families. I would collect their recipes, preserving the individual methods and regional differences so that they wouldn't be lost to time."

“The grannies are the last generation that had to make pasta every day to feed their families,” Bennison says. “I wanted to celebrate older women and their experiences. These women are survivors.” They include Tuscan nonna Giuseppina Spiganti, 93 (above), who shows YouTube viewers how to make spaghetti-like “pici” pasta. The videos are a kind of oral history, often recording unique recipes.

But it’s the grannies themselves who have won global appeal. “It’s not about pasta-making really,” says Bennison. “It’s more like a warm hug.”

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