Nena

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Nena (Chenopodium bonus-henricus) is a wild spinach found in North Albania. It is mostly used by shepherds from the Kelmendi community. The Kelmendi were originally a northern Catholic tribe whose origins were described by Johann von Hahn. The tcommunity lives in a mountainous area on the present-day border between Albania and Montenegro.

Nena can be found in late spring and summer in high mountain, in the zones where animals live. It has a strong spinach-like taste but has a more mineral and earthier flavour than spinach. It is considered as a healthy vegetable for anemic people due to its high iron and chlorophyll content. Its leaves are broad and triangular to diamond-shaped. Its texture is succulent. The flowers of Nena are green and very small, with five sepals.

Wild spinach is used in the preparation of a traditional Albanian pie called byrek. In villages of the Kelmendi mountainous region, the byrek with nena leaves is originally prepared by women only on Sundays. It is made with several layers of dough that have been thinly rolled out by their hands. The filling includes nena and cream or butter.

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Territory

StateAlbaniaMontenegro
Region

Plav

Shkodër

Other info

Categories

Spices, wild herbs and condiments

Indigenous community:Kelmendi
Nominated by:Andrea Pieroni