What Makes Su Filindeu The World’s Rarest Pasta
Image Credit: Su Filindeu

You will be baffled by its mysteriously fine texture and potent taste. The ingredients that go into it are simple - semolina wheat, water and salt. But it’s the process of making these intricate noodles that make them so extraordinary. Su Filindeu - that translates to ‘yarns of god’ is a very sparse variety of pasta that is only made in the Barbagia region of Sardinia - an Italian island in the Mediterranean Sea. For the people in this island, this rare, lace-like pasta is a culinary gem just as much as it is a symbol of their cultural identity.

Featured on the revered Ark of Taste catalogue, the process of preparing Su Filindeu involves pulling and folding the semolina dough into perfectly even strands. The needle-thin wires are then stretched diagonally across a circular frame in a delicate three-layer pattern. Following this, the strands are dried to make sheets that look a lot like textile. The dried sheets are later broken into pieces and served with tangy pecorino cheese in a mutton broth. 

However, the most fascinating thing about ‘threads of god’ is that for centuries only women have been making this pasta. Right now, the once popular tradition is being kept alive by a few women, all of whom live on the island. Also, it’s not made throughout the year. For the past two centuries, Su Filindeu has featured only in the biannual ‘Feast of San Francesco’. Nobody actually knows when this ancient tradition really took off, but it’s definitely at the heart of this festival. In the past, a few noodle-making companies and even celebrity masterchefs tried their hand at making this elusive pasta, but they failed miserably. It’s a cumbersome and time-consuming process that’s been practised by the women of a single Sardinian family.



Such is the charm of Su Filindeu that every year, on May 1 and October 4, the people of Sardinia embark on a 20-mile trek from the city of Nuoro to the village of Lula. Hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of them walk alone at night to reach their destination - the Santuario di San Francesco. More than paying a visit to the sanctuary, these pilgrims take the trouble to actually taste the ‘rarest pasta in the world’.

According to master Su Filindeu maker Paola Abraini - who belongs to the family that has been making ‘yarns of god’ for over 300 years now - the most tricky part about making this pasta is understanding the consistency of the dough with the help of your fingertips. It’s an art the nuances of which will take years to understand. She has also tried a few variations of this pasta. In 2010, she made the exclusive black squid-ink dyed Su Filindeu nero, called Al Ciusa, which was honoured with Sardinia’s Porcino d’Oro prize for best dish during that year. 

While this matrilineal family tree is the proud custodian of this heritage pasta, Paola doubts if it can be preserved with the same passion and dedication for the future generations. Thus, it probably wouldn’t be wrong to say that ‘threads of god’ is both the most rare and endangered pasta in the world.