Pearl Barley


The type of pearl barley cultivated in Umbrian is triticum durum dicoccum, covered with a compact and tapering ear. After the threshing it presents with the caryopsis covered with chaff. Therefore husking is necessary and this work is done by a stone grinding wheel and water.
It is the only type of pearl barley that does not produce white flour, but that of a dark colour and the same as that of the caryopsis. Pearl Barley is certainly the most ancient cereal of those cultivated: archeological reports testify to the cultivation around the ninth millennium B.C. and there are traces spread throughout Mesopotamia, Syria, Egypt and Palestine. In Italy it constitutes the principle cultivation of all the Italian population. The Romans, other than introducing it as provisions for their armies, used it to make puls, vegetable soups with boiled cereals, or a flat unleavened bread.
Pearl Barley also enjoyed strong symbolic and social connotations, beginning with the ritual of the confarreatio, that consecrated the passage of the woman of the family to her spouse and was composed of an offering of flat bread made with pearl barley which was prepared for the new couple by the mother of the groom.
The plant of pearl barley is present in all cultivations of Umbria because it can be used in a great variety of preparations.
Thanks to its particular resistence to severe weather conditions and parasitic infections, the plant, cultivated up to an altitude of 1,200mts, does not need plant protection products or herbicide treatments.
Also today in Umbria there is produced the pearl barley flour which is used for mixing wheat flour, for the preparation of many varieties of homemade pastas, such as the strangozzi of ancient Spoleto origins, and is however the most widely spread typology of pasta in all the region, accompanied by unlimited seasonings.
Pearly Barley soup is a dish reintroduced regularly during the famous feast reminiscent of medieval life which is celebrated at Bevagna during the last week of June. This feast has its culminating point on the market days, which from the principle square reaches into the interior of the four quarters of which this town is composed.