Farina bona

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Farina bòna or farina sec'a is a traditional product from Valle Onsernone in Switzerland. It is a type of corn flour, obtained by fine-milling the toasted grain. Historically, it was part of the daily meal of the inhabitants of the Valle Onsernone, combined with milk, water, or wine.

History[edit]

Due to changes in eating habits following World War II, the importance of farina bòna decreased. Its production was completely discontinued in the 1960s after the closing down of the last mill of Valle Onsernone.

The initiatives and researches developed after the renovation of the Loco water mill, and realised by the Museum of Onsernone in 1986, managed to reawaken the memory of this ancient product, and to restart production. The "Slow Food" movement, originated by Meret Bissegger, the care of the teacher Ilario Garbani Marcantini, and the involvement of the scholastic institute of Vallera have encouraged researchers to delve into the historical knowledge of farina bòna. Based on the testimonies obtained in Vergeletto about production and improvement of the product, farina bòna is becoming better known outside the borders of Valle Onsernone.

The origins of farina bòna are unknown. The oldest information to date is written in the notes of Serafino Schira, a Loco inhabitant (1826–1914). The author lists some products containing farina bòna, and gives a brief description about the method of producing it.

The written and verbal testimonies certify the production of farina bòna in Vergeletto. Here, the toasted and milled grain was and still is called "farina sec'a." This name distinguishes the product from "farina verda," a flour that is milled but not toasted. The older people of Vergeletto still remember the "farina sec'a" produced by Annunziata Terribilini, the so-called Nunzia (1883–1958).

Different kinds of corn were used to make farina bòna, most coming from the plateau regions (Locarno or Ticino in general). There are some testimonies about small amounts of corn cultivated in the valley. The inhabitants used to toast the grain in the mills, in a special frying pan placed over the fire. The toasting process was different in each region. In Vergeletto, Nunzia would toast the corn until about a third of the grain had popped, and got a “crest” (thus it takes the name ghèl – galli in Italian, "chickens" in English). On the other hand, the last miller of Loco, Remigio Meletta, used to discard carefully every popped grain. It's possible that this selection was due to the difficulty in milling this kind of grain with a too heterogeneous consistency. During the milling, which was the final part of the process, the miller had to grind the grain very finely to be able to obtain, as Schira says, a flour with consistency comparable to a silk thread. That was possible only with the use of smooth, regular, ungrooved millstones, as it is possible to see in the crumbling mills of Vergeletto or among the millstones in the Museum of Onsernone.

Cooking[edit]

While in old times farina bòna was eaten and combined with water, warm or cold milk, blueberries, strawberries or wine, today its use is disparate: farina bòna is used to prepare ice cream, beer, breadsticks, biscuits, mousse, cakes, "spätzle," soups, and many other dishes.

External links[edit]