WHAT IS PICI?
It is a Tuscan chubby spaghetti. The name comes from the technical manufacturing term for making them “appiciare”. This is another pasta of the cucina povera (poor cuisine) family. Pici was made with just flour and water as far back as the Roman Empire. You don’t need a machine or an Italian grandma to make this cut. But a love of beautiful, bronze-extruded fat noodles doesn’t hurt!
WHERE IS PICI MADE?
Another non-Napolitan pasta, will wonders never cease? Pici was invented in the Tuscan province of Siena. Whether it be their beautiful red wines, their delicious sheep’s milk cheeses or their wild truffles, pici recipes are not poor in delicious Tuscan ingredients from which to choose.
WERE THE ETRUSCANS EATING PICI PASTA IN 400 B.C.?
So one very popular myth is that in the 13th century, Marco Polo returned from China and introduced Italy to pasta! And the Chinese absolutely did invent pasta around 1700 B.C. But Etruscan art clearly shows Europeans eating noodles at meals (most likely made from spelt). So while Chinese cooking is an underappreciated powerhouse of culinary technique, the Italians invented and developed their own style of pasta almost 1,000 years before Signori Polo’s trip.
WHAT SAUCES GO WELL WITH THIS PASTA?
So if you buy the dry, bronze extruded version of this pasta, any sauce will work (though thicker ones will work better). If you’re making pici at home, you won’t have as much of a rough surface for the sauce to adhere to. This is especially true if you add olive oil to the dough (since oil is the enemy of friction). If you want a cacio e pepe “sauce”, just add a lot of grated pecorino cheese (1 cup), freshly ground black pepper (1 teaspoon) and a few dabs of butter! Or try something different and add a bit of our Grana Padano sauce!