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Elide Isadori: Pasta Fresca & Gastronomia

Posted on Jun 24, 2013 by

Elide Isidori making gnocci in her shop on June 19, 2013. Photo by Cathy Nolte / Gonzaga in Cagli

Her sunny yellow dress matches her personality, brightening up the small pasta shop located only a few cobblestone paces off the piazza in Cagli, Italy. Easily identified by her salt-and-pepper hair, cherry-red eyeglasses, and infectious smile, Elide Isadori makes handcrafted pasta six days a week. On these days, Elide’s daughter drives her the short distance from her home on the outskirts of Cagli into the city center.

Inspired by her own mother’s passion for cooking and pasta making, Elide opened Pasta Fresca in 2001. Inside the shop, three generations of women work side by side, fashioning a variety of pasta shapes and sizes. Navigating the tight workspace, Elide’s strong, tireless fingers massage and manipulate dough.

“Every recipe we use is from my mother’s great grandma,” Elide says. Each day, restaurant owners and townspeople deplete her supply. Local businesses book her to cater corporate events and holiday employee parties. Elide’s pasta is in high demand for New Year’s Eve events.

A staple of Italian cuisine, pasta is created from a mixture of water and wheat flour. With the help of simple machines, the women craft the dough into various pastas. Elide explains what shape will best complement each of her homemade sauces.“My favorite pasta to make is cappelletti,” Elide says. “My favorite pasta to eat is all of them.”

“My favorite pasta to make is cappelletti,” Elide says. “My favorite pasta to eat is all of them.”

Demonstrating her dedication and passion for cooking, Elide often pushes established boundaries when it comes to making gnocchi. Using fresh seasonal ingredients such as spinach, she often infuses her gnocchi with subtle flavors and bold colors. Incorporating small bits of her personality into her craft keeps her daily routine less routine. Embracing the Italian zero-kilometer concept, she uses locally grown products as inspiration.

Elide recently expanded her shop to include gastronomia – artistically crafted cuisine and sweets. The women create and sell specialty dishes in a typical take-and-bake fashion. In the crowded cases of Pasta Fresca & Gastronomia, platters display selections. Regular patrons know to place their orders early in the day to ensure a fabulous meal to savor that evening.

Pristine, shiny, reflective surfaces prove that cleanliness is a priority to Elide.   Health inspectors dock her cleanliness rating only because of the historic photos of Cagli she hung with pride on the back wall.  Each photos represents a generational history that is as much a part of her as the newly created pasta.

As a participant in the second annual Cagli Grill Festival, Elide is clearly not afraid of hard work. An experienced and skilled leader, she directs her employees as they prepare for the festival on Cagli’s central piazza. As a large portable kitchen is erected in the piazza, Elide struggles over the uneven cobblestones, uphill, with an oversized refrigerator strapped to an old wooden dolly. The hard work pays off when hours later the aroma of grilled polenta entices Cagliesi and visitors alike who line up at her booth. Offering a selection of grilled sausages, snail sauce, and carbonara, patrons push forward to trade their ticket for a bountiful plate.

After three days of preparation and two days of festivities in the piazza, Elide

welcomes a day off. In her spare time, she likes to soak up the sun and do nothing at all.  She embraces a common Italian phrase, Il dolce far niente — the sweetness of doing nothing. On Mondays, the only day her shop is closed, Elide spends time with her family.

Back in her shop, she is clearly at home as customers, friends, and family announce their arrival, tripping the buzzer and passing through a transparent tubular curtain that keeps insects on the street, not in her shop. Tiny gold flecks glisten from the noodle-shaped strands – similar to a beaded curtain – that adorn the entry, welcoming patrons into Elide’s world of pasta.

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