Daunians

After reading more about Magna Graecia, I’ve been exploring my Italian heritage to look for hints of Hellenic influence.

 

My maternal great-grandparents came over from Deliceto, near Foggia, which is in Puglia, Italy. I was fortunate enough to have grown up with my great-grandmother (whose birthday I share along  with my brother). She spoke broken English and was illiterate but knew how to do things like divine using olive oil in water, or take the evil eye off of people. She was very Catholic, of course.

 

So I looked a little more into Deliceto. According to Wikipedia (not exactly the most reliable source but perhaps the most easily accessible one in English), Deliceto goes back to the year 1000. That’s not very helpful.

 

The village next to Deliceto, Bovino, however, is ancient. It was known as Vibinum and goes back 2000 years. It is suspected that Hannibal camped there during the Second Carthaginian War.

 

Vibinum was occupied by the Daunians who were an Iapygian tribe. The Iapygians were Hellenized early on and worshipped Hellenic deities (including Aphrodite!).

 

Now, this is all a very tenuous connection to the Hellenic deities.

I don’t know my great-grandmother’s story. I don’t know how long her family had been in Deliceto or, if they’re not native, where they came from before that. Furthermore, I don’t think 23andme includes ancient peoples like Daunians or Iapygians in their DNA tests.

 

I do, however, think it highly likely that my Italian heritage goes back to people that worshipped either Roman or Hellenic deities (perhaps even both) before becoming Catholic.

 

Does it matter? Ultimately, no. I find it interesting to know the culture in which I came from but I do not feel bound by it. I would someday love to see the region, eat the food, and perhaps get some traditional recipes. But other than honoring my ancestors, I don’t feel bound by blood.

 

After further research online, I found this site talking about recipes from the Foggia region which mentions:

 

Everything derives from the fact that thirteen or fourteen centuries before Christ, the territory of the Dauni – a peaceful people of Greek shepherds – was suddenly invaded by the Dorians, heading down from the North. Given the daunting circumstances, the Dauni chose freedom and embarked for the Adriatic coast, but unfortunately they did not have any marine experience and the short journey across the Mediterranean Sea turned out to be a very unfortunate adventure, ending in a disaster: many of them drowned and the few survivors who reached the coast were traumatised with an invincible fear of water and the sea.

This is why descendants of the Dauni weren’t skillful fishermen and as a matter of fact, they were not even keen on seafood. Today, of course, in the Gargano area there are various excellent seafood dishes; but the recipes are imported from other areas or they have been developed more recently.”

Intriguing. The Daunians are named as “Greek”.

There’s a recipe later on described as “peasant food” involving a fava bean puree over fettuccini covered in fried garlic, hot peppers, and fried breadcrumbs.

Since I’d been reading about Italy that morning, I had the desire to go to Eataly. It’s a huge complex in our mall, created by TV chef Mario Batali, full of Italian restaurants and groceries.

While looking through their produce, I saw that they had fresh fava beans on sale. So I bought them and made the recipe for my partner and I. It was actually really good.  My partner is vegan, so it was very cool to see a vegan recipe from my ancestral homeland. (We often avoid eating Italian when going out because vegan options are limited.)

They also had some really good bread. I’m a sucker for good bread. It was a huge rustic high-hydration loaf made with what they call “mother yeast” (probably a sourdough starter). Very tasty. Moist crumb. Not too sour.

I got some Apulian extra virgin olive oil as well to dip the bread in. It’s the good stuff.

Offerings will be made.

Post-script:

The link about food in Foggia with the ‘peasant food’ recipe also mentioned a dessert called “grano dei morti” or “grain of the dead” that is traditional for the area. I Googled it and found this page in Italian.

It links the dish to Persephone and Demetra. Curious that they use the Hellenic gods over the Roman ones.

~ by sacredblasphemies on 05/30/2017.

2 Responses to “Daunians”

  1. Just conjecturing here, but perhap sthe name “Daunians” has a relationship with them term “Danaäns”, a name used for the Hellenes. It is derived from Danaos.

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