The small village of Casalbuono in the Calore Valley hills has a long tradition of growing beans, whose fame has spread as far as Naples. The reasons for this tradition include the mild climate, influenced by the Calore River, which prevents excessive temperature swings and ensures a high nighttime humidity, as well as the exposure of the cultivated fields, well sheltered from cold north winds, and the presence of many natural springs.
Beans have been grown here for centuries. According to De Condolle, a 19th-century Swiss botanist, beans had been grown in Casalnuovo (as it was then known) since its founding in the 13th century. The seeds were brought by the inhabitants of Cesariana, a nearby Ancient Roman town, who moved to these hills in the Middle Ages. The beans grown at that time were completely different from the modern legumes. These pre-Columbian beans, of African origin (also known as black-eyed peas), were later replaced by Phaseolus vulgaris, introduced by the Spanish after their explorations of the Americas.
Currently seven varieties of bean are preserved in Casalbuono, some dwarf and some climbing. Two climbing varieties are among the most interesting: the Sant’Antere, which produces kidney-shaped beans with red and brown streaks on a beige background, and the Panzariedda, with round seeds, half-white and half-beige. The climbing varieties are harder to cultivate, as they must be supported by wooden stakes or, following tradition, intercropped with tall corn plants. Their gradual flowering and ripening means they must be picked in stages. The harvesting is done manually, as are the drying and the shelling.
Every year, the people of Casalbuono hold the sagra dei fasul scucchiulariedde, the bean threshing and shelling festival. All the inhabitants used to come together every year to thresh and shell the beans, and over time the ritual turned into a village festival, keeping the same name.
The beans are one of the main ingredients in the local cuisine. Dishes are often linked to a specific variety, like tagliatelle with beans or soup (with or without pork rind), both of which use Sant’Antere.
Harvesting since August, available all year round dried
Casalbuono, Salerno province
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