Rapi of Trasimeno
B. rapa L.
RISK OF EROSION: Medium
In the regional and most commonly used lexicon at present, Brassica rapa refers to Rapi del Trasimeno or the lake and, more rarely, lake pulezze. In the markets of Perugia the term rapi indicated the shoots of the plant with tender leaves around it.
The first written testimony that explicitly refers to the cultivation of “brassicaceae” in the Trasimeno area or “many gardens for cabbage” dates back to 1821 by the archpriest Bartolomeo Borghi with attestations referring to the seventeenth century.
The broccoli or rapi del Trasimeno represent one of those cases in which there is a strong identity connotation and recognition with the local communities, thanks to the synergy between the cultural identity aspects of the lake area (fame, tradition, memory) and more properly “material” aspects (the cultivation, the soil, the flavor, the seed handed down), together with the feeling of “naturalness” given by cultivating one’s own and non-commercial varieties.
The rapi del Trasimeno or broccoli del lago, are identified with the variety Brassica rapa sylvestris L. (family of the Brassicaceae, genus Brassica) of which the “rapi” are consumed, term with which the leaves are locally indicated and more rarely also the roots (subject to much less frequent use today than in the past) and the “broccoli dei rapi”, or the shoots produced by plants locally called “cimine”, “camette”, “gettini”. In the lexicon of the Trasimeno area, rapi and broccoli are not exactly two synonyms, but two ways to indicate which part of this turnip species is harvested and for what purpose and use. This is because, as will be seen later, rapi, in common use until the 1970s, were basically a fodder plant, which had a dual use, both for animal feed and mainly for bovine and for human nutrition: the leaves were harvested almost exclusively for the animals, the broccoli for the men and the turnips for both. We necessarily refer to a past time, as “those rapi” referred to by the farmers who cultivated them up to 50/60 years ago are now confined to private use, in family gardens. The distinction that was once made, linguistic and therefore functional today is no longer necessary and is not in use: the rapi are the broccoli, that is the most delicious and renowned part and which is consumed only in human nutrition. “The Vocabulary of the Perugian dialect” by Luigi Catanelli, integration and updating of a previous version published by the scholar in 1970 with the title “Collection of Perugian voices” constitutes an interesting documentary source. Among the items concerning the plant varieties is: “broccolétto del lago, sm, sprout of turnip, characterized by a bitter taste, grown in the surroundings of Lake Trasimeno: i ‘vurrìa gòdeme sta’ céna con do ‘broccoli bèn cunditi anziéme a’ na miscolata de lasca fritta, I would like to enjoy this dinner with some well-seasoned turnip sprouts together with a mixture of fried roaches “[Catanelli, 1995: 68]. The consumption of the leaves (which “could be eaten when they were more tender, however they were less good, when they made the shrimp they were more appreciated” 1) and the turnips are more linked to a traditional knowledge and practice, not frequent nowadays. Farmers, as mentioned above, continue to cultivate “a presetta” of turnips in their garden consuming, as usual, in the various periods of their long cycle all the various parts, taking advantage of them during three seasons. A resource, which has been and is in the stories and in the practice of those who have “lived” the rapi “forever” as doubly essential. In the regional and most commonly used lexicon at present for Brassica rapa sylvestris we mean Rapi del Trasimeno or lake and, more rarely, lake pulezze. In the markets of Perugia the term rapi indicated the shoots of the plant with tender leaves around it. «In the peasant tradition of Trasimeno, the turnip, before it produces the typical inflorescences, is continually sprouted. These jets are particularly tender and tasty: very popular in the kitchen ». 2 In order to understand this distinction in the past and present definition of rapi and broccoli, it is necessary to focus on the role played by this vegetable over the last few decades, a role recognized and appreciated by the communities of the lake. In other words, the transition from a role and a position of centrality in the diet and life of the inhabitants to a role of indirect tourism promotion and visibility. In both cases, to outline the characteristics of the environment and the habits of those who 1 In the Bavicchi Seed Catalog of 1963, there were sachets of seeds of: “Long-rooted Trasimeno white turnip: it is grown for the production of shoots ( broccoli) which are a delicious vegetable to be cooked with a characteristic slightly bitter taste “. The presence of these seeds also recurs in the catalogs of the late 1970s. The Bavicchi shop was still located in the historic center of Perugia, it can be deduced that the diffusion was wider than the Trasimeno area, probably with different uses and production results. 2 Taken from the site: www.ricetteumbre.com Page 3 of 7 they live around the lake and also pass by rapi. The rapi therefore express the peculiarities of this territory. The spreading area of rapi cultivation is that of the municipalities that insist on Lake Trasimeno. Specifically, rapes were mostly cultivated in particularly sandy and humid riparian soils, suitable for hosting them. A territory suited to connote these vegetables. “The rapi del Trasimeno were the most named because here the soil is sandy and is sweeter, it is not bitter and bitter, in the clayey soil it is more bitter, stronger”. The lands and the land of Lake Trasimeno characterize and strongly characterized the production, yield and flavor of rapi. A link between lake land and the environment that is expressed in the work of the farmer who first recognizes it and becomes its spokesperson.
TYPICAL PRODUCTION AREA
The area of diffusion of rapi cultivation is that of the Municipalities that insist on Lake Trasimeno. It is probable that from the Umbrian municipalities, this cultivation and the related consumption were transferred to the neighboring Tuscan municipalities; it could extend, but more difficult to document, in the Perugia area. The local area is limited to the Trasimeno District which includes the Municipalities of Castiglione del Lago, Passignano sul Trasimeno, Tuoro sul Trasimeno, Magione, Città della Pieve, Piegaro, Corciano, Panicale, Paciano.
In the past, turnips were used, cooked under the coals and in small rooms. Ginetto claims that “The turnip was the favorite beast in Perugia, in the spring after the herbs were gathered, then in the winter they cooked for the animals, cooked turnip for the animals, for dairy cows”, probably in order to facilitate the production of milk . «We boiled them, we took them out of boiling water, put them in cold water to squeeze them and we made balls. Then a small pan was taken with a little olive oil, a little bit of minced garlic, just golden, the rapi were added, chopped, left to heat for 5 minutes, then the favorite thing was to eat them with sausages, ribs on the grill, pork was his death, in my opinion. Once it was a weekly diet, every week they were rapi or with pork… ». In fact, they constituted and substantiated the bovine feeding, both of the Chianine, used for the work of the fields and of the dairy cows, “they mixed with the straw they were the feeding of the Chianine, when later obviously when they began to grow, above, not the leaf part, we called it the room… ».
Texts taken from “Regional register of autochthonous genetic resources of the Umbria Region”