Ibiza restaurants: Can Domingo – Mamma’s love

The recipe for maccheronicini al ferro at Can Domingo has been passed down to the Ibiza dining destination via a long line of women. This dish contains the touch of millions of Italian mammas, who over centuries invented pasta. Following in their creative footsteps, head chef Giuseppe Vivacqua has paid homage to his mother and her ancestors and to his adopted home in this gorgeous dish. It’s a culinary nod to his past and his present. But first… the pasta!

Over thousands of years, across the changing shape of Italy, women young and old, stood in kitchens, flour dust swirling in the sunlight. They talked about loves, loss, passions, children, the men they had and the ones that got away… and all the while they played with variations of flour and water. This was how Italy’s pasta as we know it came to be. No one bought machine-made pasta (the scandal!), no jars of sauce (che cosa!) and most definitely, no pre-grated, plastic-clad cheese!

Every pasta shape is deigned to carry sauce in the most efficient way. Think how the twirls of fusilli carry pesto, or rigatoni is faultless, steeped in hearty vegetable sauces or tiny orzo always looks at home in hearty winter soups. The names were taken from the shape of the pasta (orecchiette – little ears) or in the case of ferro, the tool that made it – a long thin metal skewer around which the dough is rolled.

Interestingly, pasta didn’t reach the New World until early Spanish settlers brought it to the United States. It was Thomas Jefferson who popularised pasta after a four year-long stay in Paris, where he tried something he called macaroni and brought home two cases. When his stash was finished he implored any friend travelling to Europe to bring more. Nowadays pasta is the go to dish for almost everyone. However, there is pasta and then there is proper pasta

Can Domingo’s maccheronicini al ferro is so lovingly prepared that once you watch the process, it is impossible to take a bite without feeling intense love. Ultimately that’s what Italian cuisine is – the love of all the Italian mothers that ever existed packed into one plate. Chef Beppe is surely channelling his mother when his elegant hands expertly roll the soft white dough over the metal stick; again, flour dusts swirls just like it did in the kitchens of antiquity.

But Beppe is not an Italian mamma living in a small village sharing his life across a wood table with friends. He heads the kitchen at one of the most exacting fine dining restaurant in Ibiza. He is also master of an extraordinary and productive permaculture garden that provides much of the produce used at Can Domingo. So, his maccheronicini al ferro is quite different than that of his Mamma’s but just as delicious. She would be very proud.

Locally made sobrasada sausage is crumbled into a tomato-based sauce, smoothly coating the ferro. Hunks of creamy Burrata embellish the dish, topped by a green crown of freshly picked rocket and a scattering of home-grown cherry tomatoes. The velvety Burrata balances the salty and faintly spicy sobrasada while the rocket and cherry tomatoes provide crisp freshness.

In other countries, women shared the story of their lives over quilting or needlepoint. In Italy, life is shared via preparing and eating food. At Can Domingo, Beppe continues this tradition of connecting life with the food we eat. He daily renews and reinforces the strongest bond of all. That between Mamma and the food she provides for those she loves.

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