In 2016, a video showing Maria and Peppina decked out in traditional dresses, making an endangered dough traditionally served at weddings called su filindeu, went viral. The pasta, made only in the small town of Busachi, Sardinia, was only being prepared by three local women when Vicky Bennison filmed the process. Based on saffron, su filindeu symbolizes “good fortune”. The viral video drew 300,000 viewers to Pasta Grannies in 2018 (per Heated).
Websites like Food52 picked up the video and renamed it “world’s rarest pasta”. Soon Bennison had an agent and a book deal. The simple videos take place in domestic kitchens where these grannies demonstrate their skills by rolling out sheets of paper-thin pasta (sfoglia). Although their skills are expert, Bennison only films home cooks, not chefs. Fearlessly, the ladies layer the sfoglia without it sticking, with the stamina of an 18-year-old.
With the help of her “Granny Finder”, Livia De Giovanni, Bennison finds grannies mainly by word of mouth. In a two-step process, De Giovanni first deals with the “guardians,” usually a controlling parent, before being introduced to the grandmother (per Food52). De Giovanni helps persuade older women to be filmed cooking for them, often in remote villages that many tourists don’t see. With the help of subtitles and narration from Bennison, the short videos show grannies creating all varieties of pasta, including pencil-thin snakes for cavatellucco, accordion-folded sfoglia for laganella or pleated square sheets for tortellini.