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Lentils of Castelluccio di Norcia: Earthquake Solidarity

Date: November 5, 2016 - categories: , , , , , - Leave your thoughts

As all Castelluccio has been evacuated, I wonder where Derna is staying – and if her sacks of lentils are with her, salvaged from the rubble of the October 26 and 30, 2016 earthquakes?

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Signora Derna and her sacks of lentils

As we wandered Castelluccio summers ago, tour guests and I had stopped to chat with elderly Derna sitting in a plastic chair in the garage below her house, sifting through mounds of the family lentils – just harvested on the “Great Plain” (Piano Grande) below the village.

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Derna sifting through her family’s just-harvested lentils

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The lentil plant

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Lenticchie di Castelluccio

Harvesting the lentils on the Great Plain below Castelluccio

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Lentils scythed on the Piano Grande below Castelluccio

Medieval mountain gem perched over the vast expanse of the Piano Grande (1500 m), Castelluccio is famed for the world-renowned IGP (“indicazioni geografiche protette” i.e., only from that area) lenticchie di Castelluccio. In this town, about sixty farm families – lentil growers, shepherds, and breeders of cattle, pigs – are united in an agricultural co-operative but following the Oct 26 and 30th tremors, houses as well as animal stalls crumbled. Farmers wish to stay near their animals and are opting to live in pre-fabs or campers rather than accept temporary lodgings in Adriatic seaside hotels (as have many of the homeless). Numerous farm families have sustained damage to homes and/or to stalls and about fifty of them will be living in tents.

Farmers and breeders in quake areas are opting for campers or tents – to stay close to their crops and animals

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The facilities for the packing and then storing of the lenticchie were compromised after the August 24th quake; all the packaging production of the summer harvest was moved to a warehouse near Rieti. That warehouse was damaged in the October 30th quake. New facilities must be found. Lentil producers and their families are now feverishly racing to sift through and re-package lentils after the seismic hit, hoping to get their product back on the market as soon as possible.

…and thanks to Marco Francalancia for his photo of the lentil harvest near Castelluccio

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How to best help all the farmers taking an economic wallop after the earthquakes? Buy – and eat! – Castelluccio lentils, Norcia prosciutti, capocollo, salami, ciauscolo (soft salami) and the Valnerina area pecorino (sheep’s milk cheese). And not to forget: black truffles and saffron (of the Cascia area, near Norcia).

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I have my Castelluccio lentils and will make a lentil soup in tribute to Castelluccio, to the lentil-producers there. But I wish I could taste that steamy zuppa di lenticchie once again in Norcia – at the Locanda de’ Senari….

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Locanda de’ Senari, July , 2012

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What goodness we shared at Locanda de’Senari – and cook, Mariella, joined us

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Ah…that zuppa di lenticchie!

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Alas, the entrance to the Locanda de’ Sedari, post-October 2016 earthquakes…

…and I hope to taste the goodness again one day at Agriturismo Monte Veletta (enjoyed lunch there last summer with California friends), where the owners also raise the lentils they serve up – and not only:

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View of Castelluccio from the terrace dining area of Agriturimo Monte Veletta

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Serving up pecorino at the agriturismo

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Davide and his father raise the lenticchie di Castelluccio that they serve

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Davide with their lentils and legumes, on sale at the agriturismo

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Davide serves up the lentil soup goodness (made with lentils the family raised)

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…..and Castelluccio, devastated by the October, 2016 earthquakes

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…..and if we do a benefit dinner, la zuppa di lenticchie di Castelluccio must star as co-primo piatto with pasta alla norcina. An ode to Derna….and all the Castelluccio lentil farmers.

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Click here for full information on le lenticchie di Castelluccio and how to best cook them
At the end of this note, a list of producers selling the goodness of the quake-hit areas
Read about a recent visit to Castelluccio – to see the flowering splendors of the Piano Grande
See the recipe for pasta alla norcina (a possible earthquake-benefit dish)
Read about Norcia – and earthquake damage
Read about Norcia..and la norcineria
Read about Castelluccio and the famous lentils
Read about Castelluccio majesty
Read about earthquake damage in Castelluccio
Read about the curious history of Preci (near Oct 30 2016 quake epicenter) – and earthquake damage
Click here for news on the glorious Benedictine abbey of Sant’Eutizio (outside Preci)
Read about the earthquake trauma  of missing cemetery visits on November 2nd
Click here to read about the August 24, 2016 earthquake damage in Umbria
Read about earthquake benefit dinners
Read more on the benefit dinners following the earthquake
Click here for news on our benefit dinner starring pasta all’amatriciana
Read about San Pellegrino near Norcia, damaged in the August 24th, 2016 quake
Read about – and see – damage to Visso
Read about San Salvatore, near Norcia, lost: che tragedia
Peppa’s home had damage, too, though light damage
Read about Norcia’s norcinerie, needing a comeback
Read about Cascia and earthquake concerns there

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