Barley - A divine child cereal
Demeter, the Greek goddess of harvest is the "mother of barley"
The first memory I have of barley is the famous square candies in white and red paper, hard as a stone and bitter - the teacher gave it as a prize in elementary school but to me it seemed a punishment rather than a prize!
Then growing up every time I asked for coffee I was 'tamed' with barley ... let's face it, even if I didn't know the taste of coffee, I could swear that I didn't like barley at all.
Only as an adult did I come to know barley as a cereal with excellent culinary and herbal qualities.
In fact, barley is a soothing, emollient, refreshing and mineralizing cereal.
Its history is interesting:
barley is the oldest cereal cultivated by man for ten thousand years, in fact. It can grow at almost all latitudes, it can be kept long and stored easily and it is nutritious.
When the Indo-Europeans learned to cultivate the land (and from nomadic hunters and shepherds they turned into farmers) they became indissolubly linked to this cereal. Barley was grown in very large areas, which stretched from India to Northern Europe.
The great civilizations knew the cultivation of this plant well and the Greeks and Romans fed mainly on barley (bread and soups) and in the Greek cities the gladiators were fed with barley thanks to its invigorating qualities.
Subsequently, this cereal with high nutritional power gave way to wheat, which was more suitable for baking thanks to its gluten content.
The "hordeum" thus became a crude food. destined only for the lower classes until the whole Middle Ages when it almost disappeared from the table.
From the nineteenth century to the second half of the last century "Barley coffee", a term used improperly as it does not use coffee beans, but toasted barley, was part of the traditional milk and dry bread breakfast of the peasant.
Today barley, in the form of malt, is widely used for the preparation of beer and whiskey.
Instead in the kitchen, barley is widely used in soups or cold salads.
In grain we can find it:
- whole when the grain is "intact"
- decorticated when the bean has undergone its first refining process
- pearly when the cereal is completely refined
- in flakes
- in flour
Here are the main qualities of barley:
- it is anti-inflammatory
- it is emollient
- regulates intestinal flow
- it is rich in minerals.
I'll wait for you on Sunday with a delicious and fresh barley salad with a sweet Mediterranean flavor.