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Pear flour from Verdings

Brown gold

Sweet pear flour (Birmehl) flows through my hands. It actually looks like brown sugar. And in some ways it is: a golden-brown sweetener that has served as a substitute for sugar over the centuries.

The poor villagers of Verdings could not afford sugar, which was incredibly expensive for a long time. It was therefore fortunate that the dried pear varieties of Verdings ripened beautifully and their fruit could be made into this flour, albeit with some effort. However, the village was called mockingly and somewhat derogatorily "the pear flour's village."
“It takes a lot of work!"
Today things are a little different. Traditional pear flour is experiencing an unimaginable boost in the gastronomic region of the Eisack Valley. Here people like to reflect on the treasures of fertile nature. Wild mountain herbs, old and new varieties of apples, nuts, wine, chestnuts, and recently even pear flour (Birmehl). Because the region's chefs and foodies who come to them are always looking for a special taste experience.

A colorful crowd gathered for Birmehl-Sunntig on the first Sunday in October on a large meadow used as an orchard in the village of Verdings. The smell is delicious as freshly prepared regional specialties are offered at many stalls. Dumplings, ravioli, Spätzle, Schlutzer, Strauben, bread and ice cream - all have a common denominator on this day, a common ingredient: pear flour (Birmehl). I happily make my way through this mountain of delicacies and get stuck on the Birmehl dumplings. They literally soak in the brown flour powder and taste sweet, pearly, and just delicious!
A couple of farms in Verdings still have four of these characteristic orchards with centuries-old trees, known as Bangert. Old varieties of apples and pears, plums and berry bushes grow here. Today they are a treasure for the village. On the Birmehl hiking trail, which winds around the village, many new pear trees have been planted in recent years and a nature trail has been created. Interested people who want to hear more stories about meet in the afternoon for a guided tour on the hiking trail.

Meanwhile in the village, the Birmehl-Sunntig becomes a festival with all that goes with it. Associations present themselves and their work. At the hunters' stand you can learn a lot about forest life and local animals, as well as touch skins and feathers. Some amateur photographers gather around the well-known volcano photographer Ulla Lohmann. Here they are on the hunt for motifs. South Tyrolean hunting horn players and a group of alpine horn players perform, while there is a playground and various craft tables for children. Tourists and locals meet over a glass of wine.
The Birmehl-Sunntig is the highlight of an entire week dedicated to the brown sweetener. Over the past few days, the four local inns-Bar Gosser, Pizzeria Monika, and restaurant St. Valentin in Verdings, as well as restaurant Huber in Pardell - have offered various Birmehl specialties. A real highlight is the night hike, for which Konrad Faltner comes up with something special every year. During the adventurous hike, texts are read, pictures are shown and Birmehl specialties are tasted. Sated and satisfied, the night hikers then return to the village square and Valentine's Church.

Text: Sylvia Pollex
Photo: Thomas Rötting
Publication: 2022