Today we were able to visit the only pasta factory throughout Sicily, the Tomasello Pasta factory. This company creates several different brands including the brand they sell at Trader Joes and Barilla pasta. They use only Sicilian wheat and the company actually began as solely a wheat storage facility. The pasta is first dried at a low humidity of 10% and then is cleaned to remove the seeds. The sorting process then begins and is followed by all of the cleaning regimens. After the cleaning, there is a eight hour resting period before being passed through the roller mill to grind up the wheat. Humidity is then added and the wheat is pressed and sent to the machines to be cut into the 70 different varieties of shapes that they create. We actually got to walk through the factory and see each one of these steps. The process is so quick and the amount that they produce each day is just incredible. The absolute capacity of the factory is 5000 tons of pasta. The thing that interested me the most was that Tomasello exports 60% of what they produce.
Italian factories are much different than American factories in several ways. For one, they do not have the precise safety standards of OSHA that the United States has to follow. When we were walking around the factory there was no protection between the machines and us. I could have easily walked right up to the pasta and touched it with my bare hands without anyone saying anything to me. Also, the machines were very loud and I noticed that none of the employees were wearing ear protectors. I guess things really are different in Italia!
It was so great to finally see the exact steps in where our pasta supply comes from. These are the things you wonder your whole life and sometimes never get the answer! Fortunately for us, WE DID! I am so looking forward to what the rest of this trip has in store for us!