Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
My great-grandfather, Paolo Sciabbarasi, was born on March 5, 1896, in Marianopoli, Sicily. In 1902, he traveled from Naples to NY on the ‘Calabria’ with his brother, Salvatore, and Calogera Ricottone, his mother. His father, Cataldo, paid for their tickets.
In 1910, Paolo and his family were living at 182 Baker St., which is no longer a street in Buffalo, NY and was located in the area known as First Ward 25.
He traveled back and forth, from Sicily to Buffalo and few times in his life. In 1927, he traveled on the Giuseppe Verdi from Palermo. His occupation is listed as a laborer.
In 1930, Paolo, then 34, lived at 313 Trenton Avenue with his wife, Stella, and children, Thomas and Carrie. He is listed as a laborer in street construction. My grandmother told me that all of the males in the family were involved in street construction and laid many of the streets we use today in Buffalo, NY. Throughout the 30s, Paolo continued to be listed as a laborer and polisher.
In 1940, Paolo (44) lived in Buffalo, New York, on April 1, 1940 at 105 Fourth Street with his wife, Stella, and children, Carol, Russell, and Carmi. This census reveals something new; his highest grade completed is Elementary school, 3rd grade.
A few years later in 1942, Paul (46) was living at 535 Fourth Street and filled out a draft card. He listed ‘Shirley Herman’ as his employer, which was located on Elmwood in Buffalo. Again, he is listed as a laborer. His hair color and eye color is listed as brown. His height is listed as ‘5’. His complexion is listed as ‘dark brown’.
In 1946, the couple was celebrated in the newspaper for the birth of a son, possibly Paul Jr.
Paolo died on March 24, 1952, in Buffalo, New York, when he was 56 years old. He was living at 6 19th Street. The name, Laraiso, is also listed as the last name in his obituary, possibly because of his father, Cataldo. My grandmother noted that the family may have changed their name upon arrival because of mafia ties. He was survived by his wife, Stella, and children, Carol, Russell, Carmen, and Paul Jr., as well as siblings, Sam, Mrs. Pat Lo Patriello, Mrs. Josephine Inserra, Mrs. James Ricattone, and Jennie Sciabarrasi. He was a member of S. Benedetto Society and Club Avilglanese.
In Summer of 2017, my grandmother told me stories about my great-grandfather. My grandfather asked about where she was buying peppers and told her my great-grandfather had the best peppers at his shop. When she arrived, he grabbed his coffee and doughnuts and told her to come chat. While they were chatting, my great-grandmother called. She asked if he was with the neighborhood ‘putana’, and he said in Italian that he was talking to a lovely local girl that Russell had just met, and he thought she was Italian. He was speaking in Italian, and didn’t know that my grandmother could understand Italian. My grandmother remembers going to their house for dinner. They lived on the West Side and didn’t have a lot of money. My great-grandmother would make ravioli, except my great-grandfather didn’t like ravioli. He said they sat like rocks in his stomach. She would make him spaghetti instead.
I was excited to make homemade pasta for the first time. Busiate are a classic Sicilian pasta shape. They are named after ‘busa’, or a knitting needle because many families used knitting needles to roll the noodles. I gathered some inspiration from the cookbook, Sicily, by Melissa Muller. Her family is from Sicily, and she noted that the pasta is called ‘busi’ in her grandmother’s village. I was warned, the pasta is labor intensive to make. After rolling the dough into long noodles, they have to be rolled around sticks. The noodles are traditionally tossed with a basil, almond, and plum tomato pesto, called Trapanese Pesto. Although there are some photos in the book, and searched YouTube and found this great demo by Papa Vince. They call it ‘busa’.
My five-year-old niece came to visit and I thought pasta making would be a great family activity. It was actually a lot of fun. We used leftover dough from the spiced sweet ravioli the weekend before. Besides using my Imperia Pasta Machine to make fettucini (the easier noodle to crank out with a five-year-old), we also tried making some busiate noodles using wood skewers.
Instead of following the cutting directions exactly from the video above, we used some of the fettucini noodles we rolled out of the machine (the perfect width to roll busiate noodles). For me, rolling the noodles was easier than I thought it would be. Not so much for the five-year-old but she still had fun making her own noodle shapes.
It is amazing that the noodle will slide off and keep its shape. Don’t forget to add a little flour to the skewer every now and then.
We let the noodles dry for a half hour or so and then boiled them. One thing with this dough is that it doesn’t take a long time for the noodles to boil (also because they are not fully dried or frozen). It maybe took 2-3 minutes, or so. I was amazed that the busiate actually held their shape when boiled.
Happy noodle making!
- Sicily cookbook by Melissa Muller
- Pane Nero Flour: https://www.gustiamo.com
- Italian specialty shop: Gustiamo
- Imperia Pasta Machine
|Passive Time||1.5 hours|
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 large eggs
- 1 lb. hard wheat flour see resources
- 1 wooden skewer or knitting needle
- Beat eggs and salt in a bowl.
- On a large working surface, put flour in a mound and make a volcano hole in it.
- Put 1/4 cup of the beaten egg mixture in the hole in the center of the mound.
- Little by little, gather flour from the sides and mix into the egg mixture. Eventually, it will become a dough ball. Continue to add the beaten egg to the center as you continue to knead the dough ball.
- Knead the dough ball until you have used all of the flour. Add water if too dry, add flour if too wet.
- Cover with a towel and let rest for one hour.
- Like I did, you can use a fettucini setting on a pasta machine to cut the noodles. Or you can cut the dough into chunks about the size of a fist and roll out each chunk into thin noodles. (Or use the technique in the video above to roll out the dough into thin strips- just be sure to flour the dough really well before rolling or the pieces stick together.)
- Cut the noodles into 12-inch pieces, or longer if you want longer noodles, or shorter if you want shorter noodles.
- At an angle, press the end of the skewer/needle into one noodle and then vigorously roll the skewer/needle to form the noodle around the skewer/needle. (I found it easier to twist the skewer while holding the noodle. My niece liked doing the opposite.)
- Remove the pasta and repeat with the other noodle pieces.
- Let the noodles dry for 30 minutes before boiling (boiling should only take 2-3 minutes).