There are more than 100 Slow Food Presidia present at Parco Dora from September 22-26.
And the 14th edition of Terra Madre Salone del Gusto, at Parco Dora, Turin, from September 22 to 26, will feature the unveiling of 13 new Slow Food Presidia, enriching the catalog of biodiversity protected by Slow Food.
A story of biodiversity
Slow Food has focused on defended biodiversity through its projects to protect the extraordinary food heritage of our planet. This journey began in Italy, which is so rich in traditional techniques, native species and rural landscapes, in 1999, with the foundation of one of Slow Food’s keystone projects: the Presidia. These projects support small-scale, traditional products at risk of extinction, restoring value to local areas, recovering centuries-old skills and saving native animals breeds and vegetable varieties from extinction. There are over 600 Presidia spread across 79 countries, with 350 in Italy alone, involving thousands of food producers.
There are six Italian regions who present new Presidia at Terra Madre Salone del Gusto 2022: Friuli Venezia Giulia, Campania, Lazio, Calabria, Sicily and Puglia. These are stories of regeneration, revival and resilience.
As well as the foundation of a network of Italian chestnut growers, Terra Madre hosts, for the first time, the Presidium for Capranica Prenestina Mosciarella, around 50 kilometers east of Rome. Mosciarella isn’t the name of a chestnut variety, but a product made with the dried nuts: a long process that’s necessary to conserve the nuts through winter at over 900 meters above sea level. The process involves keeping the chestnuts in stonewall buildings in the forest where pruned chestnut branches and the hulls of the nuts are burned: the smoke and heat dry the chestnuts and gently smoke them.
Sicily: over 50 active projects in the region
The most recent Slow Food Presidium in Sicily is in Tortorici, a town of 6000 people near Messina, noted for its hazelnuts, of which several varieties are grown locally. The Presidium was founded to protect Tortorici Pasta Reale, a dessert made with just three ingredients: water, sugar, and hazelnuts from the Nebrodi mountains. Pasta reale is recognizable for its mostly flat shape with a swollen ball in the center. There is no precise recipe, and the result depends on how the hazelnuts are ground and toasted.
Also in the case of Alia Scattata, the recipe doesn’t require many ingredients. This typical dessert from the mountains southeast of Palermo uses only almonds, water and Maiorca flour, an ancient grain still grown in the Madonie area of Sicily. It’s said that no two Scattatas are alike; the traditional recipe can be traced back to the beginning of the last century and is passed down through the generations. Restoring value to this artisanal craft is the principal goal of the Presidium, which also aims to involve and strengthen the social fabric of the surrounding countryside, starting with the crops needed to make this dessert that are much less commonly grown now than they were in the past.
In the area around Agrigento we have the Licata Buttiglieddru tomato, which is a tomato in the shape of a bottle! It has a unique growing cycle: planted in December, they ripen at the end of May with the help of useful insects instead of chemical fertilizers. They’re great fresh, known for their sweetness, but the buttiglieddru has always been used to make tomato sauce and sun-dried tomatoes too. The Presidium unites a dozen producers with a strict production protocol that requires in-house seed conservation and reproduction, a ban on herbicides and cultivation in open fields.
FRIULI-VENEZIA GIULIA, A JOURNEY THROUGH THE KARST AND THE ALPS
Friuli-Venezia Giulia is participating in Terra Madre with two new Slow Food Presidia, launched this year in the easternmost region of the Alps: marasca honey in the Karst area and pestith, a macerated turnip pesto spread in Valecellina and Val Vajont in the province of Pordenone.
Carso Marasca honey is obtained from the nectar of the flowers of the mahaleb cherry tree (Prunus mahaleb), also known as the Saint Lucie cherry tree, a variety that grows wild on the carbonate substrates of the Karst in Trieste and Gorizia. Its short flowering period, even shorter near the sea than inland, produces a honey with an amber color and delicate aroma, with a slightly bitter aftertaste reminiscent of almonds.
From the Karst we then move to the Alps with pestith, which depending on the locality can also be called pestìç, pestìth, pestìf or pastìç, obtained by steeping purple-collared turnip. This is a variety of turnip that also grows in colder and less sunny mountain areas. It is harvested in autumn and left to macerate until the holiday season, when the turnips are washed and pounded, at which point they are ready to be sautéed in oil or butter, onions, salt, and pepper.
PUGLIA, FROM THE JEWELS OF THE SEA, TO TYPICAL SWEETS AND TRADITIONAL BAKED GOODS
In Taranto (Puglia), the black mussel is a new Slow Food Presidium, and it is also much more. First of all, a recognition that challenges the prejudices that have plagued the city for years, for reasons first and foremost environmental, and at the same time also a symbol of rebirth for a community that has the origins of its history in mussel farming. More than twenty mussel farmers have joined the project, which involves the farming of the Taranto black mussel according to a specification that not only guarantees product traceability and quality, but also respect for the marine ecosystem. In fact, thanks to collaboration with scientific partners, such as the CNR, and technical partners, such as Novamont, producers who join the Presidium use environmentally sustainable materials made from compostable materials.
Also in the province of Taranto, in Manduria, the colombino is the dessert of the holidays. Today few local pastry chefs keep and maintain the recipe. This truncated-cone-shaped pastry features two layers of puff pastry filled with orange-almond paste and custard. It is topped with a soft meringue icing made with sugar, egg white, and lemon, and a dove-shaped decoration, made with apricot jam, classically paired with a glass of Primitivo di Manduria Dolce Naturale.
In Brindisi, on the other hand, Francavilla Fontana’s confetto riccio is linked to two other special occasions, the two Thursdays preceding Mardi Gras. The confetto is made with locally-sourced round-shaped almonds – the tondina in particular, but also the catuccia, spappacarnale and carluccio – as well as sugar and lemon. Preparation involves toasting the almonds inside the conca, a low, round, wide copper pot, heated to a consistent temperature, to which the riccio artisan imparts the wavy movements. Then follows the curling, which is achieved by reducing the temperature of the fire and pouring “lu gilueppu,” a syrup cooked to a trickle, formed from hot water, sugar and a few drops of lemon into the conca.
Focaccia a libro di Sammichele di Bari is a focaccia that is circular in shape, crispy, and brown on the outside and soft and white on the inside. The name comes from the book-like closure of the sheet of dough, which, during processing, is rolled out, seasoned with extra virgin olive oil, salt, and oregano and then folded back on itself to form a roll arranged in a spiral. A typical trait in the making of the focaccia a libro (“fecazze a livre” in dialect) is the use and enhancement of “poor” and unprocessed ingredients: flour from locally cultivated soft grains linked to traditional regional cereals – maiorca, risciola, bianchetta; salt from the nearby salt pans of Margherita di Savoia; extra virgin olive oil from local mills from olives of the ogliarola barese cultivar; wild oregano gathered in uncultivated, arid and sunny areas; natural yeast from the sour dough of the previous dough.
Closing the circle in the route around Puglia is the bread of Monte Sant’Angelo, a wheat flour bread with a large, sometimes very large, round shape. At one time, in fact, families bought bread only once a week, so the loaves could exceed 12 kilograms. A curious and characteristic aspect of the Gargano town’s ovens is the fact that many bakers used to display the loaves outside their stores, sometimes even hanging them on the wall. It is still baked in ovens with refractory stone chambers that are often very old and that, with the exception of Christmas and New Year’s Day, always remain lit. Preparation involves leavening with only sourdough, to which flour is added daily for daily production.
FROM CALABRIA, THE LEGUME YOU DIDN’T EXPECT
Historically considered the meat of the poor because of its richness in protein, the poverello bean is a legume with excellent nutritional properties. It is produced in the province of Cosenza, within the Pollino National Park, and there are three localities involved: Mormanno, Laino Castello and Laino Borgo. Here the poor white bean is still cultivated traditionally: being a climbing bean, chestnut support stakes, obtained from nearby forests, are used, while harvesting is done by hand. The pods are left to dry on cannizzi (woven reed trellises), and then inserted to be threshed. One of its peculiarities is precisely its cultivation, achieved by enriching the soil only with well-matured manure, with no synthetic chemical fertilizers.
IN CAMPANIA, THE ONION FROM VATOLLA
A fundamental ingredient of the traditional susciello di cipolla, the onion from Vatolla, a village in the Cilento municipality of Perdifumo, in the province of Salerno, reflects centuries-old peasant traditions: from the custom of lighting three bonfires at planting time, to the custom of selling the onions tightly braided. The association of producers adhering to the Presidium is largely made up of women, particularly involved in the braiding work, with whom a group of young people collaborate, eager to rediscover their history and roots. The main characteristic of this onion is its flavor – distinctly sweet, not very pungent but with a still strong aroma – which makes it perfect for eating raw, in salads, or in the classic onion and cacioricotta omelet.