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The Rose of Gorizia is a local variety of radicchio (Cichorium intybus of the subspecies sativum) typical of the area of Gorizia in Friuli-Venezia Giulia. It is recognized as one of the Traditional Agri-foodstuffs of Friuli and Venezia Giulia and as a Slow Food Presidium.
Rosa di Gorizia is a variety of chicory characterized by an intense red color or red color with nuances leading to pink according to the type of selection. Leaves are broad and arranged in the shape of an open rose. The taste is only slightly bitter, as opposed to radicchio from Veneto (radicchio from Castelfranco, Chioggia, Treviso, Verona), and it is crunchy to the palate. The variety of Rosa di Gorizia with a more delicate taste is called “Canarino” and is probably obtained by a cross with Trieste’s blond chicory. Canary has yellow-colored foliage and an even sweeter taste.
The history of Rose of Gorizia dates back to the times of Hapsburgs. The first written sources appeared in the volume “Gorizia – la Nizza austriaca” of 1873, written by Baron Carl von Czoernig-Czernhausen, who lived in Gorizia in the second half of 1800. In the volume, among the description of legumes cultivated in the city, a “reddish chicory” is produced in the plain between Gorizia and Salcano and, to a lesser extent, in the peripheral areas of the city.
Rosa di Gorizia had great importance for the city’s economy, which was mainly based on agriculture and relied a lot on the production of this particular chicory. Older farmers of the area remember they always produced it because it was one of the few and sure sources of income during the cold winter season in Gorizia.
One of the hypotheses on the origin of the Rose in the territory of Gorizia refers to a Mr. Vida. She escaped a plague epidemic that broke out in Veneto by bringing the seeds with him to Gorizia. Vida could have transported seeds of red radicchio from Veneto, or perhaps those of Chioggia, which once sown in the lands of Gorizia, would have given origin to the Rose of Gorizia.
Another hypothesis dates back the origin of the seeds to the countess of Gorizia, Leukardis, from 1046 to 1072 abbess of Castel Badia’s monastery where the nuns were practicing in the cultivation of flowers and vegetables, which, because of the harsh climate, needed particular care. Given the very close relationship between what today are the territories of Val Pusteria and Gorizia, one can imagine that there were frequent exchanges of products between the two places.
Diffusion and use
Rose was cultivated mainly in the plain between Gorizia and Salcano (today in Slovenia); however, the cultivation has been reduced over the years due to the enlargement of urban centers. Therefore, its production is not intensive, which guarantees the product a niche market, making the Rose Italian excellence protected. Today it is sold at very high prices because of the increased need for a workforce. In recent years, the Rose of Gorizia has had absolute commercial growth in the world’s haute cuisine. It is the most expensive radicchio in the world, sought after by chefs from all over the world for its beauty and gastronomic peculiarities. Its beauty and perfection in shape, together with the coast’s crunchiness and sweetness, make it the winter period’s special ingredient. It appears in the kitchens of the most famous European and worldwide restaurants, which consider it as precious as truffle and therefore worthy of matching with caviar and other precious ingredients. An example of the spreading of the Rose of Gorizia is the Cookitraw event of 2010, which took place on the Collio Goriziano, where 20 chefs from all over the world celebrated it in their creations table. Chefs of the caliber of Renè Redzepi, Yoshihiro Narisawa, Massimo Bottura have interpreted it in the various elaborations of the kitchen showing how it can be used in multiple forms, from cooked to raw, up to the version in extra virgin olive oil, which is also protected and became a Slow Food Presidium.
Radicchio, slightly bitterish, is to be tasted raw, cut as little as possible to avoid oxidation, and accompanied by boiled potatoes, boiled beans, boiled eggs, or seasoned with olive oil, wine vinegar, and salt. Even the small root is good to eat, cut thinly and added to a salad.
How to make Rosa di Gorizia – Rose of Gorica: Production
Rose is sown in the period between March and half June, in the waning moon, which often coincides with the sowing of cereals, particularly oats, to avoid the growth of weeds.
Seeds are mixed with sand (Isonzo sand is preferred) to form a solid mass that is then distributed on the ground. The ideal soil is of alluvial origin, gravelly, and rich in iron, subject, during the summer, to long periods of drought. During summertime, the clods are broken at least twice by harrowing, and we wait for the arrival of the first cold weather. The harvesting of radicchio, done by hand, head by head, with all the roots, occurs from the end of November to the beginning of December, and it begins after the first frosts. At the time of harvesting, the heads of Rosa are almost the same as the heads of common radicchio: the color is green. After harvesting, the charges are kept in closed environments, at a temperature of about ten degrees, gathered in bunches of ten plants each, and laid on straw, grass, or sand. Heads must be wetted, and as they develop, outer leaves must be removed. Forcing ends in the days before Christmas, the period in which radicchio appears on the table.
After the forcing, the selection of seeds also takes place. During the harvesting at the beginning of December, farmers do not collect the roots, but they leave some plants on the ground. The choice of the mother plants is based on personal experiences and sensibility according to each plant’s external aspect. These selections depend on the product’s quality, which is not entirely identical from producer to producer. The color of the finished product varies according to the type of selection made.
When the plant has reached a certain height of growth, about 70 centimeters, farmers strip it of most of its leaves, allowing wider sprouting. In June, the blue flowers sprout, and the harvesting of the stems begins. Tied in bundles, they are left to dry upside down, and by August, the beating takes place. With this process, the dried flowers containing seeds are removed. The material is first passed through a sieve, the dras, and then, using a special wooden tray, the vintuluza, the remaining impurities are removed; finally, the final cleaning is done. The seed obtained must remain at rest, skipping a productive season, to preserve and improve the genetics and germinability.
The Rose is the result of the selections made by the various local families of farmers that followed one another during the centuries. The choice for the production of seeds is carried out by growers in a practical way and follows a long and established tradition, to which growers stick.
In the past, the seeds obtained by these selections were never sold or given to other families. Still, they were jealously kept to keep the patent on the product received, which became a characteristic of the family. Nowadays, every farmer is very jealous of his seeds, just like the families of the past. In the form of self-certification, the declarations produced by some of the producers who have dedicated themselves to this type of cultivation for more than 25 years are preserved. They hand down the seeds from generation to generation, reproducing them from year to year after selecting them.
Protection of the product
The Rose of Gorizia is recognized as a PAT (Prodotto Agroalimentare Tradizionale – Traditional Food Product) of the Friuli-Venezia Giulia Region. The local producers are gathered in the Producers Association Radicchio Rosso di Gorizia, Rosa di Gorizia and Canarino, established in 2010 to enhance the uniqueness of the product and remember the traditional boundaries of cultivation within the municipality of Gorizia. The city itself has given to the Producers Association Rosa di Gorizia e Canarino, the municipal denomination, De.Co., and has entrusted the same to supervise the production discipline’s respect.[unclear] The association has obtained Italian Collective Mark’s certification and is waiting for the recognition as European Collective Mark. This radicchio is considered the most expensive in the world. Being used by chefs of haute cuisine worldwide, it is copied and reproduced in territories outside its borders, with very different cultivation techniques that make it very different from the original. In defense of this product’s originality and quality, the Slow Food Association has taken sides and collaborates in the protection of this gastronomic specialty.
Regional food from Friuli-Venezia Giulia
Production area Municipality of Gorizia