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When the Local Cuisine Still Incorporates Wild Food Plants: The Unknown Traditions of the Monti Picentini Regional Park (Southern Italy)

  • Valentina SavoEmail author
  • Francois Salomone
  • Flavia Bartoli
  • Giulia Caneva
Article
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Abstract

When the Local Cuisine Still Incorporates Wild Food Plants: The Unknown Traditions of the Monti Picentini Regional Park (Southern Italy). Wild food plants are still part of the culinary traditions of many rural areas in the Mediterranean. This study aims to document these traditions and the food uses of wild plants in an area of the Monti Picentini Regional Park. We performed an ethnobotanical survey between 2013 and 2015 using standard ethnographic methods. We analyzed the gathered data using ethnobotanical indices, and we compared our results with relevant literature pertaining to uses of wild food plants in Central and Southern Italy. We interviewed 64 key informants, whose ages ranged between 40 and 93 years, and we gathered about 1900 use citations about the traditional food uses of 84 wild plant species. Many of these species are still incorporated into traditional dishes. We recorded the previously unknown food use of four plant species (Rubus hirtus Waldst. & Kit.; Petasites hybridus [L.] G. Gaertn., B. Mey. & Scherb.; Asphodelus macrocarpus Parl.; and Oenanthe fistulosa L.). We also highlighted several rare food uses as well as many other uses that are common across Central and Southern Italy. Knowledge concerning the uses of wild food plants is part of Italy’s history and culture, and it should be preserved before modernization of lifestyles and homogenization of food habits extinguish this realm of food and culinary knowledge.

Key Words

Wild edible plants ethnobotany ethnobotanical indices Mediterranean diet traditional foods. 

Riassunto

Quando la cucina locale ancora incorpora piante alimentari selvatiche: Le sconosciute tradizioni del Parco Regionale dei Monti Picentini (Sud Italia). Le piante alimentari selvatiche fanno ancora parte delle tradizioni culinarie di molte comunità rurali del Mediterraneo. Questo studio si prefigge lo scopo di documentare tali tradizioni e gli usi alimentari di piante selvatiche in un’area del parco regionale dei Monti Picentini. Abbiamo svolto una ricerca etnobotanica tra il 2013 e il 2015, utilizzando metodi etnografici standard. Abbiamo analizzato i dati raccolti usando indici etnobotanici convenzionali e abbiamo comparato i nostri risultati con quelli riportati in studi riguardanti usi di piante alimentari selvatiche in Sud Italia ed Italia centrale. Abbiamo intervistato 64 informatori, la cui età variava dai 40 ai 93 anni e abbiamo raccolto circa 1,900 citazioni-uso di usi alimentari tradizionali di 84 piante selvatiche. Molte di queste specie sono ancora utilizzate nella preparazione di piatti tradizionali. Abbiamo rilevato usi alimentari precedentemente sconosciuti per quattro specie vegetali (Rubus hirtus Waldst. & Kit.; Petasites hybridus (L.) G. Gaertn.; B. Mey. & Scherb., Asphodelus macrocarpus Parl.; e Oenanthe fistulosa L.). Abbiamo inoltre evidenziato molteplici usi alimentari rari come anche tanti comuni in tutto il centro e Sud Italia. La conoscenza degli usi alimentari di piante selvatiche fa parte della nostra storia e della nostra cultura e dovremmo preservarla prima che la modernizzazione dello stile di vita e la banalizzazione delle abitudini alimentari la facciano scomparire.

Notes

Acknowledgments

This work was carried out thanks to the support of MIUR (Fondo Giovani). Heartfelt thanks go to all the informants in the Monti Picentini Regional Park for their availability and knowledge that made this work possible.

Supplementary material

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© The New York Botanical Garden 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of ScienceUniversity of Roma TreRomeItalia

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