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On sweet acorn (Quercus spp.) cake tradition in Italian cultural and ethnic islands

  • Notes on Neglected and Underutilized Crops
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The CNR-IGV, over the last 15 years, has organized and performed expeditions aimed at collecting germplasm and local knowledge on plants used by local populations in isolated areas, such as geographical islands, or local communities that for ethnic or cultural reasons have maintained to a certain degree their isolation from surrounding populations (cultural islands). In two such cultural islands (Bovesia, Calabria region, south-west mainland Italy, and Ogliastra, Sardinia island, Italy) a tradition regarding the use of acorns for preparing a cake was recorded. In Ogliastra, an elder lady still retains the knowledge regarding the collections, maintenance and utilization of acorns for preparing a cake, a knowledge once common and now quite completely disappeared. The present paper reports on the culture associated to acorn used as a food for humans.

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  1. Leather was sold for shipping abroad, and when in 1649 the nearby harbor was closed by order of the Viceroy, Comte d’Ognatte, to prevent smuggling, the people of Tricase felt in poverty and were forced to farming. They specialized in growing zucchini squashes, so the villagers became known as ‘cucuzzari’, meaning ‘squash growers’.


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The authors are indebted to the mayor of Urzulei, Dr. Giuseppe Mesina, for introducing DP to the elder lady still preparing the acorn cake, and to that lady herself for accepting showing her skills in preparing the acorn cake. DP expresses his personal gratitude to Dr. Mario Pirastu, Director of the Institute of Molecular Genetics of the CNR, for advice and profound knowledge on the genetics of Ogliastra human populations.

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Correspondence to Domenico Pignone.

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Pignone, D., Laghetti, G. On sweet acorn (Quercus spp.) cake tradition in Italian cultural and ethnic islands. Genet Resour Crop Evol 57, 1261–1266 (2010).

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