“Fra la pasta c’è: paternostri, avemarie e semesanto; sono tre tipi di pasta…l’avemarie són piccoline, ’ paternostri sono un po’ più grande e il semesanto sono que’ chicchini” (In Tuscan dialect, “Among the pasta shapes we have: paternostri, avemarie and semesanto; three types of pasta… avemarie are small, paternostri are a little bigger and semesanto are those tiny ones”): T. Poggi Salani, N. Binazzi et al., Vocabolario del Fiorentino Contemporaneo, Accademia della Crusca (Contemporary Florentine Dictionary: Crusca Academy): http://www.accademiadellacrusca.it/it/scaffali-digitali/vocabolario-fiorentino).
The name of this pasta for soups comes directly from Roman Catholic tradition, referring to the famous “Our Father” (Pater Noster) prayer. This appellation is mainly used in Tuscany, while in other areas of Italy people are more likely to call them ditali.
It was common practice in Italian families to recite prayers to estimate cooking times. Some even argue that the difference in size between Ave Marie and Pater Noster pasta can be attributed to the Rosary. The Rosary is a set of beads on a string, each of which corresponds to a prayer: the larger beads invite the faithful to pronounce the “Our Father” (Pater Noster) prayer, while the smaller beads correspond to the invocation of the “Hail Mary” (Ave Maria).
Pater Noster are suitable for all pulse or vegetable soups.
Davide, an employee at Pastificio Fabbri suggests enjoying the pater rigati with a bean soup (borlotti or cannellini) with rosemary and garlic. Don’t forget to add some cooking water to the soup to give it the right creaminess.