Right now in Greece Carnival is in full swing. In earlier times, the days of Carnival were full of celebrations and crowds of young and older people all masqueraded. The main purpose was not so much the disguise itself, but to be successful in fooling each other’s friends and relatives so they would not be able to recognize who it really was behind the disguise. The masqueraders went from house to house, teasing the folks that had stayed home, who also would tease back the masquerades. Often the wine would flow abundantly helping the dancers doing their carnival moves.
The last day of Carnival – the Sunday of Tirini as we say in Greece – one would not eat meat. All the housewives would prepare handmade spaghetti from local flour accompanied by local goat cheese. The woman would make the dough, roll sheets out of it with their dough rollers (matsoverga) and cut them into stripes. The result looked very much like chilopittes (finely cut handmade lasagne).
On Ash Monday the strict fasting would start, and until Easter Sunday one would not eat meat, fish, cheese and eggs at all. Each Wednesday and Friday people would also refrain from olive oil.
Pasta with the black ink of cuttlefish
Today’s recipe is made in the summer and is not the traditional one with goat milk. I will give that to you at another time. This pasta is made with hard flour, which I always buy from my local supplier: the mill of my uncle Yannis. With this flour we make two kinds of pasta, a basic white version and a black pasta with an additional ingredient: the ink of cuttlefish. To make fresh pasta is not that difficult, but it takes time. So make sure you’re not alone when making it, but that you are surrounded by very good friends! Make the pasta together and have fun while making it, a glass of wine might help ;-).
White and black pasta
If you are able to find cuttlefish with ink, then wear some gloves and carefully remove the ink into a clay pot. Do not use plastic bowls; I tried it and the ink leaves stains on the plastic that cannot be removed. Make sure you strain the juice very well, as it has small granules in it that you don’t want in your dough or anything else you make. An alternative is to buy ready ink in small jars in the right fish shop.
The recipe for the basic white and the black pasta are exactly the same. The only difference is that at the moment you add the oil in the dough, you also should add 1 teaspoon of ink for each 200g of flour. Let’s start with preparing the dough!
When the dough is smooth and compact, form a ball, wrap it with plastic foil and let it rest in a cool place for an hour. When the dough is ready, roll it into sheets.
Cut the sheets into stripes. Leave the pasta a little to let it dry a bit.
The black pasta looks beautiful and a bit mysterious…
…but if you prefer the basic white pasta, go for it!
Boil the pasta for 10 minutes and serve with grated cheese, or any other way you may think of!