Ferrara: capital of hemp

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In the centuries before the Po delta silted up, Ferrara was a leading seaport. Captains throughout the Mediterranean would tie up at one of the city's seven piers to have their ships fitted with sails made with canvas from Ferrara. Why? Helps to remember that the term "canvas" comes from "cannabis"... in other words, hemp.

Ferrara market from the Castello.JPG Matchbox in Ferrara.JPG Pumpkin-stuffed tortellini.JPG
View from Ferrara's castello; "marijuana" matchbox from market vendor; pumpkin-stuffed pasta

Indeed, the plains of northern Italy were once the source of the world's best hemp, used for ropes, cloth and paper. American agronomists were recommending hemp seeds from Ferrara as recently as World War I. Alas, no longer; nostalgia makes for poor industrial policy. King Cotton, though it requires outrageous amounts of water and pesticides, has overthrown Hardworking Hemp and demonized its sexy sister, Mary Jane.

Ferrara's farmers, for their part, no longer harvest tasseled hemp. They're into pumpkins, which turn up in recipes across Emilia-Romagna.

1 Comment

Hmmm...the pumpkin pasta doesn't thrill me but I like the matchbox pop art ripoff...is Roy Lichtenstein still alive (I'm too lazy to google that fact right this second)? if so he should sue!

Ronald - you are missing a Hollywood WTO film shoot happening on your block this weekend. Speaking of hemp - the new film stars Woody Harrelson, and Ray Liotta as former mayor Paul Schell (!). If only I could be in Italia right now too, becuase that is bullshit.

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This page contains a single entry by Cornichon published on December 10, 2006 12:36 PM.

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