The elder | The "Pharmacy of the gods"

by Monday, November 26, 2012


The common elderberry (Sambucus nigra) is a well known plant since antiquity. Already in his treatise “Kreutterbuch” of 1551 one of the fathers of the German botanist, Hieronymus Bock, noted that in Germany the elder was certainly known by all plant, and it was unnecessary to use many words. From the botanical side, the elderberry is a tall shrub 2 to 5 m, the stem has grey-brown bark, hanging from the branches with white cord; the leaves are composed of 3 to 7 leaves attached to a single stem; the pale yellow flowers very perfumed in umbels and fruits are purple-black berries appearing in autumn and remain on the plant until late December. In mythology, We note that one of the German names, “Holder” may derive from the word “Hold Or” that means protector spirit of deceased ancestors. THE “guote Holder” are so good and the spirits “Unhold” the malignant Lari. The reverence and respect for the plant are witnessed by the fact that, until the end of the 800 if, German farmers meet the elder in the fields we were raising the hat; even before picking up its leaves or flowers, people were asking permission to sambuco, in order not to irritate him; believing that protect from the bite of snakes, many it kept a bit in your Pocket, and in Styria there turned to the elder as a priest. In traditional medicine the elder was regarded as a veritable panacea, a remedy which healed all evil. The elder was called the Tyrolean “gods pharmacy”. Seven times the farmer bowing in front of you all if tree because there are seven healthy gifts : the buds (from which we obtain a decoction against neuralgia), the leaves (to make poultices for relieving inflammation and treat skin diseases), the flowers (for purifying and sudorific tea), the berries (for the inflammation of the bronchi and lungs), the bark (laxative), the root (boiled and pounded against gout) and finally the marrow from which you get a soup that mixed with flour and honey is fine for dislocations.Around the forts, the masi and monasteries planted elders because they said that protected houses, cattle and inhabitants from snakes and from mali. The elder, emptied from the medulla was to build small flutes or whistles (e.g.. in France the elder was called in antiquity Hautebois agreement that in modern French is l if oboe). In Germanic legends, the magic flute was an elder twig emptied from the sound cord, Recalling the agreement attention of spirits of the forest, all ills would disappear along with the bad luck, the negativity and sorrow.According to old Germanic traditions, a small, slender inflorescence agreement meant a year of drought; If instead it was oily and strong we could expect a good harvest. According to popular beliefs, who cut an elderberry Bush, within 3 days would die or would die a person dear to him. If the if the tree was annoyed, It was a bad omen regarding the health of the inhabitants of the House. The elder played an important role in the cult of the dead: In Germany it was customary elderberry planting in cemeteries. In many countries the Venosta Valley up to the last century before the coffin they used to carry a cross made from elder branches called Lebelang and after planting in fresh pit: If the branches produced meant that if the soul of the deceased had attained eternal bliss; the coffin measures were taken with an elder auction agreement and Carter carrying the coffin instead of the whip he held in his hand a stick of elder; elderberry tea was drunk during the wake. The elder was considered particularly effective on the day of san Giovanni, by herbalists sometimes also referred to as Hollertag – Elder's day: on this day who ate a fried elderflower umbrella agreement in butter, According to popular belief, would not have had a fever throughout the year if. San Giovanni night you put on his head a Crown of the sick 9 flowers and was passing under a tree of elder: If the Crown remained on the head, the disease was curable, otherwise no.And, the expression here is relevant "dulcis in fundo”, the culinary part: in the kitchen you are using berries, If very mature, they have juicy and aromatic pulp, rich in vitamin C for jams, sorbets, syrups and jellies, but they can be eaten fresh. You can also produce a kind of wine that was used in place of dessert wine (He said poor spumante; others jokingly called him "the Champagne of ladies") or you use the fruits for coloring or flavoring other wines (It is reported to the port), But if most common use is in the manufacture of liqueurs, e.g. in Austria the Schwarzer Holunder. Traditionally used the flowers, but they must not be blooming at all. Are put into the batter and deep-fried, in salads or in macedonia; those buckets are used for flavoring alcoholic beverages, amari, l if vinegar and white wine which gives some flavour of moscato.

by Bruno Barbieri – Italian cuisine Academy in Merano


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