Do you remember “Viva la pappa con il pomodoro”, Rita Pavone’s song of the early 70s? This song was so successful that it was translated in other countries, and it became very popular even in Russia. Well, fine, so what? The fact is that many radios constantly repeat the remake version (like a catch song), but this version does not mention “mush of tomatoes” but only pasta; in fact the text has been translated as “I love maccheroni”.
This proves how successful Italian pasta is going to be in Russia. This operation is not easy nor granted, since pasta, although very popular in the Russian moors, has been considered as a poor product until a few years ago, hence a very cheap product. Even its healthy benefits were not properly taken into account: in a nutshell, a poor product, not particularly healthy, mainly chosen for its low price. A long and winding road, so to speak. It was necessary to teach about the leading product of the Mediterranean diet. Therefore, in the framework of the activities aimed at spreading and promoting the Italian cuisine in Russia, an Italian Cooking School was created at the Italian Honorary Consulate of Samara (Russian Federation). I was the one who wanted to create this School, as Aigs consulate (Italian Academy of Historic Gastronomy), in co-operation with Renzo Pasolini, an Italian cuisine Master Chef as well as an Aigs ambassador.
After organizing the courses for the students of professional schools of tourism, the School was opened to all Italian cuisine lovers, with the course “The Italian Art of pasta cooking”.
De Cecco was the partner of this first course; after entering the Russian market through the acquisition of Pmk, one of the major local pasta producers, De Cecco has become one of the reference names in the market. In other words, some important results have been achieved.
Everyone knows that Russia is a strange, fascinating and intriguing country. The domestic pasta production reaches approximately 950,000 tons – of which 350,000 unpackaged e 600,000 packaged. The latter bear the label “durum wheat product”. What really surprises is that, even if no official statistics are available, the durum wheat domestic production is extremely limited and, according to several sources, it does not exceed 100,000 tons, while imports do not even exist!
“Real durum wheat” is the word, since many farmers consider as durum wheat also a variant of soft wheat having a more vitreous grain, with a higher output compared to real durum wheat.
On the other hand, on the shelves of so many Russian well-stocked supermarkets it is possible to find lines of pasta boxes bearing Italian names, which are not made in Italy, such as: “Gran di pasta”, “Pasta Fillini”, “Pasta Palermo” and so on and so forth.
We can also find “Federici” pasta, source of pride for Italian production in the past; however, Federici went bankrupt more than a decade ago. The pasta box is exactly the same, with the same phrase: “from pasta masters since 1888”, with references (in Italian) to old traditions, to our pasta makers and to selected durum wheat semolina. Yet, it is obviously made in Russia.