Su filindeu is a thin, thread-like, "bafflingly fine" pasta that is only made in the Sardinian village of Lulu, and only by three people: Paola Abraini, her niece, and her sister-in-law. It's been made by their family for more than 300 years, and the only way to taste it is to go to Lulu for the biannual Feast of San Franesco.
It only contains three ingredients: semolina wheat, water, and salt. But the technique needed to make this pasta requires the training and intuition of generations. Link to the Tasting Table article here.
British chef and cookbook author Jamie Oliver visited Abraini and endeavored to learn how to make the dish under her instruction but had to give up after two hours, saying, "I've been making pasta for 20 years and I've never seen anything like this," per Channel 4. Engineers from pasta company Barilla attempted to replicate Abraini's technique with a machine — and they failed.
Why is su filindeu so difficult to make? It requires a certain intuition that can't be taught. After kneading the dough, Abraini continues working it until it's the right consistency by "understanding the dough with your hands" — something that can take years to master, as she told the BBC. If the dough needs to be more elastic, she dips her fingers into a bowl of salt water. If it needs more moisture, she dips into a bowl of regular water instead.
Once the dough has the perfect consistency, Abraini stretches and folds it eight times, making it become thinner with each pull. The result? 256 even strands that are about half as wide as angel-hair pasta (via BBC Travel).
Unfortunately, su filindeu is in danger of going extinct. All three women who can make the pasta are past 50 years old, and no younger family members or even neighbors have the "passion and patience" to learn the painstaking technique from them.