If there’s one internet trend we’re here for, it’s those ultra-pure YouTube channels that feature grandmothers preparing traditional recipes. Last fall, we binge-watched almost all of Mastanamma’s videos, including the ones where the 106-year-old great grandmother taught us how to scramble emu eggs, cook “watermelon chicken,” and make a duck curry (a recipe that required her to catch and pluck her own duck).
Mastanamma has not appeared on many of the videos on the Country Foods channel lately—according to The Telegraph India, she doesn’t enjoy cooking in the summer—but fortunately, we’ve just discovered the Pasta Grannies AND WE ARE IN LOVE.
The channel isn’t new, but it has quietly accumulated more than 176,000 subscribers thanks to its charming videos of real Italian nonnes preparing handmade pastas in their own kitchens. There’s nothing flashy about it, nothing trendy, just wholesome grandmas like 93-year-old Cesaria making lesser-known regional dishes like lorighittas. (And the next time we don’t even feel like crawling off the couch to microwave some Totino’s Pizza Rolls, hopefully someone will remind us that Cesaria, dressed head-to-toe in black, spent 30 MINUTES kneading dough under the hot Sardinian sun).
Vickie Bennison, the food writer turned filmmaker behind the Pasta Grannies channel, was researching a book about Italian food when she got the idea to record and preserve some of the pasta techniques she’d been reading about.
“I noticed cooking skills were no longer being passed onto the younger generations,” she wrote on the Pasta Grannies website. “Italian women (and men) these days are far too busy to spend time in the kitchen. Of course pasta making isn't going to die out, but it increasingly is a commercial activity—for chefs, pasta shops and factories—rather an a domestic one. So I thought I'd celebrate these women and their skills by filming them.” (And it’s not like we Americans don’t need help in the pasta department: Earlier this year, three American exchange students started a fire in their Italian apartment after they tried to cook pasta without water.)
She has since filmed more than 220 different grannies, stretching the length of the country, from the southern island of Sicily to the northwest region of Liguria. There’s no wrong place to start in the Pasta Grannies archive; regardless of which video you watch first, the format will be the same, although earlier episodes won’t have the jaunty theme music and title graphics. Most importantly, these women and their pasta know-how has been recorded, preserved and appreciated.
New episodes of Pasta Grannies are released every Thursday. We almost feel guilty enough to trash these Pizza Rolls and literally start from scratch.