Monday, May 17, 2010

Italians to the rescue of the Gluten Intolerant

Comune di Reggio nell'EmiliaImage via Wikipedia
You know, Italians have a special relationship to food.  No other culture can  approach Italy for both its devotion to freshness and attentiveness to food.

I met someone recently at a "Politics of Food" conference who lost 20 lbs in Italy and she chalks it up to the Italian wheat.  She claims that she doesn't do anything differently in Italy than she does in the US and believes that her weight gain upon her returns to the US has to do with the additives in wheat.  She also doesn't have the problems with wheat intolerance in Italy that she does in the US.

I am seeing a lot of annecdotal evidence and tales on the blogosphere where people who have been seeking out heirloom wheat (some people are even going back to the Pharaohs or ancient Rome) and are finding relief from wheat related tummy aches.  On some of the gluten-free blogs, folks are searching out heirloom wheat varieties and grinding their own flour.

Montebello-Ancient Grains project, on the basis of which results it has thus selected and chosen to grow and mill Farro Triticum Dicoccum, for two main reasons: the first regards its particular hardness that makes it just right for pasta making, the second one is that, being “discovered” just recently, it has gotten off safely from the so-called technological “improvement”.

Alce Nero uses two other high quality varieties of Italian hard wheat; the first one is called Senatore Cappelli: selected by Nazareno Strampelli in the thirties, it was so called after the senator who, at the beginning of '900, was the promoter of the great Italian agricultural reform.

It is included in his project and is used in Montebello's penne, spaghetti and fusilli. Another variety of wheat iscoming from faraway: Graziella Ra®, the first farmer of which was Paride Allegri, in those days gardener in the municipality of Reggio Emilia. Seeds came from an archaeological excavation in Egypt; when the Tuscan archaeologist who had found the bunch of seeds gave them to Paride, he didn't ask for the name, not even for the place those precious grains came from, but he received a precise brief: “ If you manage to multiply them, name it after my daughter tragically dead when she was young: Graziella”.
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