BALKAN BEETS: Hot seeds – Bukovo Pepper

Why are we travelling?
Because we love diversity.

Here, in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (which has even a lot more to offer than my shot of the scenic mountains around Skopje is indicating), the diversity of vegetable varieties is one of the highest in Europe. Vegetable production has always been an important branche of the national economy and the vegetables are the basis for the rich cuisine with oriental and mediterranian influences. Mirjana Jankulovska and her colleagues from the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences and Food of Skopje found a few thousands of vegetable varieties in just one collecting mission in a few villages. Peasants are propagating their varieties for all their life. They are growing it every year and selecting the best individuums to take their seeds for the next season. This diversity is in under great threat. FYR Macedonia is suffering under rural exodus, almost every young person moves to the cities or wants to do so. The next five years will be critical for the diversity of cultivated plants, because their custodians will be too old to care for them soon.

How to keep the diversity?
Eat it.

Especially the vegetable soups and stews Pasulj (bean soup), Tavče Gravče (bean stew vegetarian/vegan recipe) and Gjuveč (on the picture, meat and vegetable stew with aubergines, tomatoes, pepper, zucchini, onion) are a revealing the diversity with every move of your fork. Their common magic ingredient is pepper powder.

In the village Bukovo, they make an advantage of their traditions. A group of mostly female pepper producers, members of the association “Bukovo Pepper”, are the last remaining in an area with perfect climatic conditions, but not suitable for industrialized production.  Together with the local Slow Food group, they have selected their oldest pepper variety and are marketing the pepper powder together. They are relying on the traditional production methods like drying on strings and milling in stone mills. In this way they are able to create a product of the highest quality, by conserving genetic diversity and the environment.

Објавено на: 13/01/2018