Far from the famous turquoise sea surrounding the island, the interior of Sardinia, Italy, is a twisted labyrinth of deep recipices and impenetrable masses that hide some of the oldest traditions of Europe.
The inhabitants here speak Sardinian, the modern language closest to Latin. Under embroidered veils, old ladies watch with caution the outsiders. And in a modest apartment in the village of Nuoro, a 62-year-old woman, named Paola Abraini, makes the world's rarest pasta, herfilinde .
Only two other women across the globe still know how to make the dough: Abraini's niece and her sister-in-law, who also live in this town on the slope of Mount Ortobene.
No one remembers how or why the women of Nuoro began to prepare su filindeu (meaning "the wires of God").
But for more than 300 years, the recipe and cooking technique have only been taught by the Abraini women - each holding the secrets under lock and key until they show their daughters.
Note that there are no other people watching. Last year, a team of engineers from Barilla, one of Italy's largest pasta manufacturers, visited Abraini to see if they could replicate her technique with a machine. Did not work.
This year she hosted the president of Slow Food International, Carlo Petrini, charmed by the rumors of a secret noodle. And he even opened the doors of his apartment to celebrated British chef Jamie Oliver, who begged Abraini to teach him how to prepare the dough.
After two hours of unsuccessful attempts, Oliver simply gave up. "I've been doing it for 20 years and I've never seen anything like it," he said.
The cook has fun with all this and says that the secret can be seen by anyone: her hands.
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