Polentoni (people who eat a lot of polenta, disparaging for Norther Italians) and terroni (farmers, disparaging for Southern Italians). These classical epithets for  an Italy divided in two parts from ancestral prejudices are difficult to explain. And them, at the bottom, care little for know the meaning. They arrived from Gambia, Mali and Nigeria, are the refugees hosted at Villa Quaglina. They work keeping their heads down, under a pale sun of an early fall. They will do the polenta. The first of his life. “You are polentoni refugees>>, say to them, affectionately, a volunteer of the shelter. They, Djallo, Karamo and Dabu, burst out laughing, sensing that “something” in between the funny thing and the paradoxical. Neverthless, they have enthusiastically welcomed the idea to experiment the cultivation of “ottofile”, the typical Piedmontese maize, also know as “melia du re”, for the passion for the polenta of Vittorio Emanuele II, who would have imposed the sowing.

The Piam project

“The idea is born from the wish to enhance and preserve the agri-food excellence with the help of the refugees – explains Alberto Mossino, director of Piam Onlus and Villa Quaglina’s consortium CO.AL.A. – The maize planted in June from the boys, is picked up now by them. It will be peeled , dried, grounded and packed. For Christmast it will be ready the Ottofile Polenta, produced by Villa Quaglina’s refugees.

The bio product

The cultivation is natural, without herbicides pesticide and the crop is handmade with the manual threshing. The drying is done in the sun or using direct flame dryers. The grinding is doing using a stone-mill, that exalts the organoleptic qualities of the cereal and let in flour all the components of the grain>> adds Mossino. From the ottofile maize, then, it’s possible to obtain flour to doing polenta, and flour for bakery. The refugees will learn to doing polenta, meliga biscuits and maize bred.

Dreams for the future

If this year will be good, the objective is to product 300 kg of polenta, the idea of the boys is to increase the production, expanding the planting also in field the near the land next to the one already cultivated. Among the “dreams” of the boys is, in the first place, to obtain refugee recognition and be able to stay in the Asti area. With the polenta production, perhaps inventing an original logo and brand, you could keep and finance some of Villa Quaglina’s activities. Waiting through food may come when there is no policy.

by Laura Secci
Source: La Stampa.