Excellencies on the Table: Umbrian Legumes

Excellencies on the Table: Umbrian Legumes

The roots of Umbrian cuisine delve into the civilization of the Umbrians and Romans with frequent use of legumes and cereals. Gastronomic excellences include Fagiolina del Lago and Roveja, both Slow Food Presidia, and Lenticchia di Castelluccio IGP Norcia.

Fagiolina del Lago: The Fagiolina del Lago, whose origins trace back to Africa, is an ancient local variety of legume. Egyptians used it as a commodity for trade with other peoples, thus traversing Asia to Greece, eventually being exported to countries around the Mediterranean basin and finding its ideal habitat along the shores of Lake Trasimeno. Rediscovered and revalued in recent years, this exquisite legume, with Etruscan lineage, has been rescued from oblivion and reappears on the table in all its splendor. Small, oval, and multicolored, with thin skin and an herbaceous, delicate, almost buttery flavor, it is enjoyed boiled and dressed with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil or in a soup with stale bread or enhanced by pork rind. But it truly shines when cooked slowly in a pot with garlic and tomato.

Roveja di Cascia: Roveja, pisum arvense, is a peculiar legume with a high protein content, dubious origins (it is thought to originate from the Middle East), and great adaptability, as it withstands low temperatures and does not require much water. In the distant past, it was a staple food; in the mid-twentieth century, due to the higher profitability of other crops, it risked extinction; in recent years, however, thanks to the tenacity of some farmers in Cascia, it has been given a new lease of life. Today, this field pea, with its changing colors of green, gray, and brown, is a highly sought-after gourmet product. It is consumed fresh or dried in soups and stews.

Lenticchia di Castelluccio IGP Norcia: White blossoms with purple veins alternate with azure bellflowers, the intense yellow of rockroses, the crimson of poppies, and the blue of cornflowers. In the background, the emerald green of the karst plateau, and around it, making this piece of the Monti Sibillini National Park even more metaphysical, the mother-of-pearl mist of the first summer twilight. This is the home of Lenticchia di Castelluccio di Norcia, a traditional product awarded a well-deserved IGP. A lilliputian, flat, round, striated seed. Colors ranging from hazelnut to greenish. Very thin skin and delicate flavor.

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