13 May 2008
EXCLUSIVE – The Saxon Villages area is one of Europe’s last medieval landscapes, home to one of the most extensive flower-rich grasslands on the continent. Here low-intensity agriculture coexists with an abundance of flora and fauna.
The local villages have been inhabited by the Saxons for eight centuries. Summoned at the beginning of the 13th century by King Geza II of Hungary to fight off raiding Muslims, the Saxons settled in this narrow swath of land in the Carpathians. They built fortified churches, cultivated the land and spread their culture. Today, the area is inhabited by Romanians, Saxons and Hungarians.
The principal economic resource is milk, which is sold to large dairies. The few cheeses produced are mostly fresh and kept for household consumption as are cured meats and fruit preserves. These jams, compotes and dulciazia (a type of very sweet fruit syrup) are homemade with fruit harvested from gardens or gathered from the surrounding woods. The most typical are made with rhubarb, wild fruit (dog-rose, mirabelle plums, strawberries and blueberries) and apples and cinnamon.
Slow Food’s Saxon Villages Preserves Presidium seeks to provide the community with a new source of income. The project was made possible through Slow Food’s collaboration with the ADEPT Foundation, which has been operating in Romania for several years and has recently opened an information center in one of the villages.
At the beginning of 2006, ADEPT organized a course on hygiene for a group of twenty women. Now, one of these groups has begun to produce preserves for the presidium. The best producers and kinds of preserves were selected after a series of tastings conducted by Slow Food experts in 2005 and 2006.
Last week the presidium received a surprise visit from Prince Charles of Wales, who has long been committed to supporting the rural communities of Romania. The Prince was in the area to talk to ADEPT Foundation producers, among whom members of the presidium. After tasting the Saxon Village jams, he spoke to the Romanian press, reiterating his belief in the need to save traditional foods. Before leaving, he bought a selection of Romanian preserves to take back to London.
To find out more:
Fondazione Slow Food
Slow Food Saxon Villages preserves Presidium
Romania, Transylvania, Saxon Villages
Tel. +40 (0) 748 2000 88
E-mail: [email protected]
Tel: +44 (0) 1844 352385
E-mail: [email protected]
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