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grano saraceno

buckwheat

buckwheat

Cultivated in the alpine valleys of Lombardy and Trentino from the 14th century, the Italian name (as in the French farine de sarrasin) is believed to refer to its dark 'Saracen' colour. Related to sorrel and knotweed, buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum) is not technically a grain at all. In Lombardy's Valtellina it's made into flour for noodles called pizzoccheri and sciatt fritters; in the Alto Adige, the flour is used to make a Grano Saraceno Torta, with preserves in the centre. In Puglia, the whole grains are sometimes eaten in salads.

Other names include grano pagano (from its supposed 'heathen' origins), farina nera, formentino, fraina, and fagopiro.

Grano saraceno della Valtellina is in the Ark of Taste.

Text © Dana Facaros and Michael Pauls

Images by: Ervins Strauhmanis