An Intimate Look at Italy’s Saffron Harvest

收获藏红花,意大利乡间的“红色黄金”

纽约时报双语版-收获藏红花,意大利乡间的“红色黄金”

Susan Wright

Italy’s Abruzzo region, although remote, has not been spared from the devastation of the coronavirus pandemic. The area has reported thousands of cases and hundreds of deaths.

意大利的阿布鲁佐(Abruzzo)地区虽然偏远,但也未能幸免于新冠病毒大流行的破坏。该地区报告了数千起病例和数百人死亡。

A few years ago, though, in happier times, I traveled to this isolated corner of Italy, east of the Apennine Mountains, to photograph the annual autumn saffron harvest.

然而几年前,在一个更快乐的年代,我来到了意大利亚平宁山脉以东这个与世隔绝的角落,拍摄每年秋天藏红花的收获季。

It was my first adventure across the country’s rugged central mountains — to the wilder side, away from the popular tourist spots, where the terrain is pristine and sleepy medieval villages are scattered throughout the pretty foothills.

那是我第一次穿越该国崎岖的中部山区,来到远离热门旅游景点、更为荒凉的一侧,那里地形原始,静谧的中世纪村庄散布在美丽的山麓上。

纽约时报双语版-收获藏红花,意大利乡间的“红色黄金”

藏红花取自花的柱头,是一种利润丰厚的作物。

Having grown up in a rural setting in Australia, I was fascinated by the Italian agricultural communities: their deep connection to centuries-old traditions, and the infusion of their land and culture with an infectious love and passion.

在澳大利亚乡间长大的我,被意大利的农业社区迷住了:他们与悠久传统的深厚联系,以及在土地和文化中注入的极富感染力的爱与热情。

纽约时报双语版-收获藏红花,意大利乡间的“红色黄金”

在位于拉奎拉省的小村庄纳维利,藏红花的种植和收获已有数百年历史。

How wonderful that these rural communities throughout Italy come together for their annual festivals, known as sagre, which are often dedicated to a specific local food.

意大利各地的乡村社区齐聚一堂,庆祝年度节日(即“萨格雷(sagre)”,通常都是献给一种特定的当地食物),是件多么美妙的事呀。

Giovannina Sarra (often called the Saffron Queen) and her family hosted me and a handful of others at their home. Early in the morning, in the Navelli plateau, we fanned out among the misty, violet-tinged fields and participated in the harvest.

乔瓦尼娜·萨拉(Giovannina Sarra,通常被称为“藏红花女王”)和她的家人在家中招待了我们一行。清晨时分的纳维利高原上,我们在薄雾弥漫、紫罗兰色的田野中分散成扇形,开始收割。

Saffron, which is taken from the stigmas of the saffron crocus, is a lucrative crop. Also called oro rosso, or red gold, it was first introduced into the region around the 13th century — an import from Spain. Prized as an exotic spice, it was sold in the wealthier regions and cities of Milan and Venice, and abroad in France, Germany and Austria.

藏红花取自花的柱头,是一种利润丰厚的作物。它也被称为“oro rosso”,即红色黄金,于13世纪前后从西班牙首次引入到这一地区。作为一种珍奇香料,它在米兰和威尼斯等富裕地区和城市出售,也销往法国、德国和奥地利等海外市场。

Saffron is harvested in the hours just before sunrise, while the crocus petals remain closed; this makes the flowers easier to pick and helps protect their precious crimson-red stigmas. The delicate buds are handpicked and placed into baskets.

藏红花要在日出前几小时采摘,其时花瓣仍是闭合的;这使得花朵更容易采摘,并有助于保护珍贵的深红色柱头。娇嫩的花蕾被人工采摘下来,放进篮子。

纽约时报双语版-收获藏红花,意大利乡间的“红色黄金”

制作一盎司藏红花粉需要大约4000朵花。

Later, on the same day, the stigmas — three tiny threads per flower — are separated from the moist petals. It’s a delicate process that takes hours with a skilled and patient hand.

随后,在同一天里,柱头——每朵花都有的三根细线——从潮湿的花瓣中分离出来。这是一个要消耗数小时的精细程序,需要熟练而耐心的手。

In the evening, over an open wood fire, the bright threadlike stigmas are dried in wire baskets, a process that adds to the richness of both the color and the flavor.

晚上,在露天的柴火上,将颜色明亮的线状柱头放在铁丝篮里烘干,这个过程有丰富其色彩和味道的效果。

纽约时报双语版-收获藏红花,意大利乡间的“红色黄金”

从潮湿的花瓣中分离细小的丝线是一个精细而耗时的过程。

It takes roughly 4,000 flowers to make one ounce of saffron powder — which means there’s a staggering amount of labor packed into the tiny containers in which the spice is sold.

制作一盎司藏红花粉需要大约4000朵花,这意味着出售装有这种香料的小小容器,需要耗费惊人的人力。

Not long ago, when I sat down to a mouthwatering plate of Risotto alla Milanese (a dish that’s infused with saffron), I recalled the early misty morning I spent with Gina Sarra and her family.

不久之前,当我坐在一盘令人垂涎的米兰烩饭(Risotto alla Milanese,一道加了藏红花的菜肴)面前,我想起了和吉娜·萨拉及其家人度过的那个雾蒙蒙的清晨。

Ms. Sarra, I was saddened to learn, died in 2018. The saffron cooperative she and her family helped organize in the early 1970s is struggling now with market closures. And it will be a long time before life in Italy — for many weeks the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in Europe — returns to normal.

令我感到难过的是,萨拉在2018年去世了。她和家人在1970年代初帮助组织的藏红花合作社如今因为市场关闭而陷入困境。数周来,意大利一直是欧洲新冠病毒暴发的中心,生活要恢复正常还需很长一段时间。

But there’s no doubt that families like the Sarras will one day return to the restorative power of their sagre — and to the many traditions that have endured for generations in the fields of the Navelli plateau and beyond.

但毫无疑问,像萨拉这样的家族,总有一天会找回他们“萨格雷”的力量——还有在纳维利高原等更多地方的田间延续了数代的各色传统。