When the common thread lies in the biscuits
During the summer days, we guide our customers to the discovery of the wonders of Liguria, the Italian Riviera, preferring the freshest paths, which follow the few and small waterways that characterize this region. Here the vegetation is immediately very different from what we encounter along the coastal paths, accompanied by the aromas of the Mediterranean scrubs.
One of the protagonists of the banks of the streams and of the countryside areas close to the waterways is the Elderberry (Sambucus nigra).
This is certainly not a typical shrub of our areas but has had a specific importance for the local population over the centuries. Of elderberry, in fact, you can eat flowers, use berries and wood.
The fresh flowers, which bloom between April and June, collected in inflorescences, are excellent batter-fried and can be used to prepare sweets, biscuits and creams (taking care to remove the stalks, which are poisonous). The dried flowers give a particular aroma to herbal teas and liqueurs.
With the fruits, excellent jams, jellies, syrups, drinks, liqueurs and even original soups can be prepared. In the past, the fruits were cooked very slowly and then thickened with a little sugar, to obtain a drink which was traditionally used in the winter months against coughs and colds.
Curiosity: the elderberry branches can be emptied of the marrow and were used to build flutes. The famous Magic Flute was made with this wood. In ancient Greece, however, the Sambyke was a stringed instrument similar to a small harp.
Recipe: elderflower biscuits
Ingredients and preparation: 500 g of semi-wholemeal flour; 100 g of brown sugar or from coconut palm inflorescences; two heaped tablespoons of dried elderberry flowers (or more if the flowers are fresh); 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil; a sachet of baking powder; enough water to obtain a soft dough that can be rolled out with a rolling pin. Cut the dough with the moulds and bake at 180 degrees for about 10 min.
If you are not directly interested in the plant, but you like its name and you like biscuits, you can pay a visit to the characteristic village of Sambuco, in the territory of the Beigua Geopark (Unesco heritage). An excellent starting point for an excursion to the Faiallo Pass (connection with trail Alta Via dei Monti Liguri, crossing Liguria by following the watershed, and the Sentiero Liguria trail) and Monte Reixa (1183 m asl).
Do not forget to taste the famous Baci di Sambuco biscuits (literally Sambuco’s Kisses) which, with other local pastry products, carry the “Gustosi per Natura” (Tasty by Nature) brand which certifies the very close link between local production and the protected area of the Beigua Natural Park.
Written by Mirjam Knoop and Rosa Bianca Paneri (Dafne Viaggi)