The Aquino baby broad bean is a local variety of dwarf bean, referable to the Faba L. species, grown today in very small quantities, to the point of risking extinction, but with a long tradition. Its history, dating back more than two hundred years ago, is linked to a rich family of Aquino, the Pelagalli, who used to prepare a bean soup, on the night between 1st and 2nd November in their palace in Via Giovenale, to offer the following morning to all the inhabitants of Aquino present in Piazza San Tommaso. This town ritual was carried out with extreme care by the family who, starting from the previous summer, set aside about two tomoli of broad beans (corresponding to 80-90 kg). A few days before the 2nd November, the beans were selected, washed and soaked in special containers. The night before the party, the men took care of stoking the fire of the braziers in the courtyard of the building while women prepared the soup. The tradition of “Fave dei Morti” was recently revived in Aquino by a cultural association to recall the distribution and tasting of this local speciality.
The bean is sown on the sandstone and travertine soil of Aquino, between November and February, tracing furrows which are then covered with a thin layer of soil. The plant, reaching a height of about 165-170 cm, is left to dry naturally. Then follows the manual harvesting and shelling of the pods. In addition to its use in the kitchen or for animal feeding, this baby broad bean is currently the subject of study for use as a hair dye or as a colour to paint fabrics.
The Aquino baby broad bean has a more or less intense brown colour and maintains its form after cooking. The medium olfactory intensity is notable for its vegetable aroma. The taste is harmoniously sweet, salty and bitter. Good consistency and solubility.