Pietro Picetti, Croxetti stamp maker

My photographer friend Alessandra Spairani is from Liguria and I’ve just spent the weekend with her and her family, discovering the different pasta making traditions in this part of Italy, one of the most famous being croxetti, embossed pasta discs. These days they’re made industrially but they are good family fun to make by hand and for that you need a croxetti – or corzetti – stamp.

I think Pietro Picetti must have kicked started a mini food tourism boom in his charming village of Varese Ligure; he is one of the very few craftsmen left still making croxetti stamps-  and thanks to food bloggers and the internet there is now a steady trickle of visitors to his garage workshop in Via Pieve 16. He doesn’t have a website ‘I had enough of computers when I worked in a bank’ was his response to my question. So you’ll have to go there yourself or find an alternative supplier (there are several).

Each stamp takes around 3 hours to make from little block to stamp. Any wood can be used, with the exception of oak and chestnut which have tannins that taint the pasta. If you feel so inclined you can have a design especially commissioned (I quite fancy a Pasta Grannies one); Pietro proudly showed off previous designs from Trussardi and someone wanting a Maltese cross. Otherwise choose from a range of corn ears and flowers in woods like beech or olive. There was a plum tree waiting to be processed when I was there – it will make gorgeous warm reddish wood stamps.

Dust them with flour before and during use, wipe them down afterwards and never wash them – and your croxetti stamp will become an heirloom!