Roveja Access to Civita di Cascia
P. sativum ssp. sativum var. arvense L. (POIR.)
RISK OF EROSION Medium
DESCRIPTION Roveja is a wild pea that was formerly cultivated mainly for livestock feed, but in difficult areas such as mountain areas it was also used for human food. Testimony of this use are some toponyms (the “Fonte dei Rovegliari”) and some recipes that have remained in the culinary tradition (the “farrecchiata”).
The generalized abandonment of the crop caused its almost total extinction, making it survive only in wild form, until in 1998 a farmer from Civita di Cascia, Silvana Crespi, began to reproduce the seeds found in the cellar in her company, integrating them into followed with seeds collected from spontaneous plants that grew in the area. Now the crop is experiencing a phase of strong expansion even in environments other than the traditional one. The Roveja of Cività di Cascia has been listed among the slow food presidia since 2006.
BACKGROUND [Summary from Righi V., “Genetic characterization of the roveja (Pisum Sativum subsp. Sativum var. Arvense (L.) Poir.) Of Civita di Cascia” ] In the past, the roveja, together with other legumes , was widespread throughout the Umbrian-Marche Apennine ridge. This type of pea, in addition to being cultivated, grew, and still grows, spontaneously, in the meadows and along the slopes of the Sibillini mountains. It was cultivated as both fresh and dry fodder plant, while only a few authors mention a very limited use of grain for food purposes ( “The product of ruby is superior to that of vetch, both in quality and quantity; … Ruby seeds are rarely used in human nutrition, but they are excellent for fattening rams, pigs, birds … They are given cooked, or raw, and then simply crushed or reduced to flour “</ em >). In Italy, even as forage, it was rarely cultivated and almost always in intercropping, while it was widespread in France, Belgium, Germany and England. In the Agrarian survey and on the conditions of the agricultural class of 1883 it is reported that there are two varieties of “Rubiglio”, one early and another late. While the vetch was cultivated and also used for human consumption, for the roveja only the use as forage is reported: “The gray or wild pea or rueglio, similar to the cultivated one, with purple flowers, small, with seeds dark gray or greenish. It loves rather strong soils, such as vetch, and is quite resistant to drought. It is sown by broadcasting … “. (PASOLINI, 1915). The crisis of this crop began in the second half of the twentieth century, when genetic improvement and the launch of specialized farms provided animals with better production performance and required the cultivation of fodder with a higher energy value. The evolution in the zootechnical field, combined with the increase in welfare, and the greater profitability of other crops have determined the conditions for a rapid decline of the crop. There are many historical references that testify to the presence and use of the crop in Umbria. For example, as reported by Giacchè and Menghini (2000), in 1545 the Statute of Montesanto di Sellano required the cultivation of various civiae (legumes), including the roveja, which had to be entrusted with 2 m for each garden. Another reference is found in a classic agronomy text, La Divina Villa di Corniolo della Cornia, written between the 14th and 15th centuries. In the 1923 article “An overview of the Umbrian high mountains and its economy” contained in “Umbria Verde” , Francolini and Buzi report that, in addition to lentils and chickpeas, “among the crops worthy of mention on the Castelluccio […] plateau (there is) the roveglia (pisum arvensis), which is widely exported to Rome” . Among other things, near Preci (Perugia), in the locality of Colmezzo, there is a spring, “Fonte di Acquaviva”, which in the past was called “Fonte dei rovegliari”. Its presence is also testified by the fact that it is often mentioned in the so-called Pasquarelle, poetic texts combined with musical motifs of ancient custom widespread in Valnerina and its surroundings: “… There is roêjia, ru cece, la lènta. there is the pulenta, which can do it. Salami and belly or fresh eggs … “. Silvana Crespi, having found about 3 hg of seeds in the cellar of the family home and not knowing the identity of those seeds, carried out some investigations to understand what it was. Since then you have collected over time a series of testimonies of people, in Umbria and abroad, who have identified the seed, remembering both its cultivation and its uses. Interesting are the many names with which the crop was called in the different areas of Italy, each of which presumably refers to a specific characteristic of the plant.
TYPICAL PRODUCTION AREA On the basis of historical evidence, the traditional territory is to be considered that which affects the Municipalities of Norcia, Cascia and Preci. The general abandonment of the crop has caused its almost total extinction, making it survive only in wild form, until in 1998 a farmer from Civita di Cascia, Silvana Crespi, began to reproduce the seeds found in the cellar in his company, integrating them into followed with seeds collected from spontaneous plants that grew in the area. Mrs. Silvana has relaunched the crop, creating an association of producers to which she has supplied her seed, and making the product a Slow Food presidium. Following this, the product has regained notoriety in the traditional cultivation area and some companies have started to produce roveja again, but in reality no other indigenous population of roveja has ever been recovered: the seed of the populations grown outside the 4 companies belonging to the association comes from the marketed product or from commercial sources outside the Umbrian territory. This justifies the attribution of the name of “Roveja di Civita di Cascia”, expressly requested by Silvana Crespi, as recognition for the uniqueness of the original access from which almost all the populations currently cultivated in Umbria derive.
GASTRONOMIC USE The “full” flavor of the grain made, and still makes, the roveja suitable for the preparation of first courses and side dishes. In particular, the “farrecchiata” or “farecchiata”, a kind of polenta with an intense and slightly bitter taste obtained from the flour coming from the grinding of the grain with the same stone mills of the spelled (hence the name farrecchiata), which it is traditionally seasoned with a mixture of garlic, oil and anchovies; it is also excellent the day after, sliced and toasted in a pan. The Monographs of agricultural families of the INEA (1933, Annex 4) reveal that, in the cultivation system adopted by a family of small owners of the Castelluccio plain, the roveja had practically the same dignity as the other legumes (0.5 ha lentil; mochi [Vicia ervilia (L.) Willd.] 0.5 ha; roveglia 0.4 ha). Furthermore, the method of consumption is described, which consists of “a kind of polenta, called farecchiata, […] is spilled on a table, seasoned with oil, anchovies, or even pork fat, or it is fried; it has a bitter taste, but is well accepted by these populations who consume it abundantly “. Today the roveja is taking on the characteristics of the typical product. It successfully appears on the menu of some Umbrian and Marche restaurants and farmhouses, where it is possible to find roveja flour polenta sautéed in a pan with onion and pecorino cheese, pasta and roveja, croutons with roveja purée.
Texts taken from “Regional register of indigenous genetic resources of the Umbria Region”.