Filippo Drago and his Ancient Sicilian Grains

Chef Jeremy Shapiro was lucky enough to speak with our world-class grain producer Filippo Drago. In this beautiful chat between friends and ancient grain lovers, Filippo really conveys what makes Molini del Ponte so special.

JS: How did you become a miller?

FD: I became a miller because I followed a passion of mine. My father’s company was my playground for me as a child. My father has the merit of my great love for grains and flours.

JS: What is the legacy of Sicilian Castelveltrano flour compared to that of the boot of Italy?

FD: Sicily was the granary of Italy since the time of the Roman Empire. […] Sicilian Flour brings with it all the scents of the island. Perfumes are highlighted by the natural stone milling. Castelvetrano flour differs from flours obtained with grains grown in other regions of Italy precisely because of its flavor. It brings with it all the wild herbs that grow together with the wheat, including dill, wild fennel, sweet clover, wild artichoke, chamomile, and others.

JS: Is Sicily still the granary of Italy?

FD: Sicily still produces a lot of wheat today, but Puglia is in first place. A lot of Sicilian durum wheat is still exported today but there are so many hectares [that are not cultivated], around 200,000 hectares. Many jobs could be created if we went back to sowing as in the past.

JS: Do you prefer the stone mill or milling cylinders?

FD: For grinding I love both mills. Each one has its characteristics. I love stone milling for perfumes and wholemeal flours. I love grinding cylinders for couscous and re-milled semolina aka Semola Rimacinata.

JS: What bread did you grow up eating?

FD: As a child I ate both the Castelvetrano (which was called ‘wheat bread’) or the durum wheat semolina bread. With the re-milled semolina my grandmother also prepared pizza for us.

JS: Do you bake bread?

FD: Traditionally, we have always prepared bread at home. We use a different flour every time, we experiment. At the moment my favorite is Tumminia flour!

Ready to get baking? Check out our full range of Molini del Ponte flours and read what other bakers have to say! And that special Castelvetrano bread Filippo mentions? We’ve got a recipe.