by Barbara Palladino
It is only fitting that the Pasta Museum would open in Collecchio, in the province of Parma: this is where leading pasta brand Barilla was born in the 1800s. And it is even more fitting that the museum is located in the Corte di Giarola, where agricultural crops were processed since the Middle Ages.
The museum tells the story of how Italy’s most famous food was born and evolved. Vintage equipment, photographs and reproductions guide visitors along a gastronomic and cultural journey, designed to explain how the queen of Italian cuisine changed over time, as the country’s industrial capabilities grew. The exhibition is structured into sections. The first is dedicated to wheat, the mainstay of any pasta product, and explains early cultivation and processing techniques showcasing some original tools and millstones. Fresh pasta is given great attention – with a focus on typical home utensils such as rolling pins and pastry cutter wheels, of which the museum boasts the largest collection in Italy. The following section of the museum is all about industrial processing, with perfectly restored vintage machines; then, visitors are introduced to the issues of automation, with technologies currently used in modern food factories presented through models and videos.
The last two sections of the museum are dedicated to extruders used to make one hundred different types of pasta, and to communication and marketing, with historical posters and advertisements created by great names in graphic design. It all makes for a delicious journey, topped off with a short history of the pasta strainer, recipe books and perfect pairings of sauces and pasta shapes. With one last curiosity: the museum is home to “the oldest spaghetto in the world”, dating back to 1837. The specimen has been analyzed and appears to have the same amount of protein as modern products, around 15%, confirming that the pasta our great great grandparents ate was very similar, after all, to the one we still enjoy today.
Corte di Giarola – Parco del Taro
Strada Giarola, 11 – Collecchio (Parma)