Diet in Mani was enriched with legumes, especially lupines, broad beans and chickpeas. The fruits of all these three plants were key elements of people’s diet, either whole or ground in a hand mill.
Broad beans and lupines were also used to feed domestic animals (“louvia”) during the cold winter months as well as for fertilization of agricultural land, as they are rich in nitrogen.
Sowing took place in autumn, from October till November, and harvest used to begin in May for broad beans and in June or July for lupines. The fact that the seeds of these plants need very little in order to grow contributed to the dissemination of their cultivation.
Lupines are a food of high nutritional value and their treatment requires effort and skill. In the past, plants were carried from the fields to the threshing floors and were beaten with the aid of a special tool called “dichali”, meaning “fork”, in order to separate the peel from the fruit. After winnowing, the fresh fruit was transported home. There, the lupine fruits were boiled in large pans and placed in sacks of flax, which were left in the sea for about eight days. This soaked the bitterness out of the fruit. Then, they were left under the sun to dry, were stored and consumed.
In Mani, chickpeas (the branches with the fruit) are collected at the end of August. Fresh chickpeas were called “tsitsiri” and used to be sold in bunches on the streets or at the weekly flea markets. The Greek word “revithi” for chickpea comes from the ancient Greek word “erevinthos”, referring to both the plant and the fruit. Ancient Greeks consumed chickpeas and loved them both fresh and dried. Chickpeas are mentioned in Homer (“there black broad beans or chickpeas grow..”) and Ksenofanis describes the following idyllic scene “..lying in front of the fireplace after a good meal, drinking sweet wine, munching chickpeas and telling old stories with your friends ..”.