Fagiolina del Trasimeno

Since 2000, Castiglione del Lago has homed a Slow Food presidium in order to promote and conserve the Fagiolina del Trasimeno. The non-profit organization aims to guarantee a viable future for traditional foods by stabilizing production techniques, establishing stringent production standards, and promoting local consumption.

The cutting-edge techniques used to protect bio diversities have allowed the Slow Food researchers to identify the genetic characteristics of Fagiolina del Trasimeno. The “fagiolina” seems to have been known and cultivated since the Etruscan Age. It later became scarcer and scarcer as quite unfit to accommodate the modern industrial production requirements.

The fagiolina is not a bean, but a legume (scientifically called Vigna unguiculata), shaped like a bean with a typical “black eye” where it attaches to the pod. Nowadays only a few producers cultivate it requesting the seeds, almost totally disappeared, to the Bank of Seeds in the Faculty of Agriculture of the University of Perugia.

The origins of Fagiolina del Trasimeno must be found in Africa: it arrived in Umbria thanks to the ancient Mediterranean populations that travelled around. Theophrastus, successor of Aristotle in the Peripatetic school, wrote about this species in Greece in 300 BC, so that the Greeks themselves spread those seeds around the southern Europe.

The maturation is scalar: the fagiolina should be collected every day for a couple of weeks. The plants get set into the farmyard to dry and the farmers beat them with forks and sticks. Once dried they separate the seeds using proper screens.

Small and oval, the fagiolina could be differently coloured: white (most common), salmon, black and brown. To taste is tender, buttery and incredibly savoury. The local recipes fagiolina-based are very simple, you can eat both beans and pod (cornetto) seasoned with extra-virgin olive oil and a bit of garlic.

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