Word of De Amicis, who in 1883 wrote about it in his “Alle Porte di Italia.” Genepì has immense fame and has been known since ancient times for its numerous properties, from anti-inflammatory to … aphrodisiac
There are few plants with such a cumbersome reputation. Nevertheless, a myriad of properties has been attributed to that of the genepì, which takes its name from a generic French term for aromatic mountain herbs. The best known is the digestive, so much so that De Amicis, after having tried the liqueur, wrote in his Alle porte di Italia, that “it would make a boiled bomb digest”. But also anti-inflammatory, relaxing, gastroprotective, healing, and disinfectant. But let’s take a closer look at this miraculous herb, from which one of the most famous liqueurs in the Alps is produced.
Origins and Parentals
Although there is some confusion regarding the terminology of the helpful variant for producing the liqueur, the most accredited isArtemisia genepi. This is the “male” genepì, distinguished from the other types by its undoubted aroma, much more pronounced, and by the arrangement of the flower heads, which take on the typical appearance of a compact, gray-yellow spike. In addition, this variety has the highest concentration of active ingredients, which perform a decisive neurotoxic action on the digestive tract in humans.
For some, the name is given by the Greek term artémes, meaning healthy, thanks to the numerous medicinal properties possessed by this plant,; while for others, it derives from the goddess Artemis, a Greek goddess who protected wild animals into the forest. The beneficial virtues of this plant are not only useful for humans. The chamois, for example, know the Genepì very well, and they graze it to heal from numerous ailments.
In all cases, few catch the assonance with another famous alpine herb: absinthe, or even Artemisia absinthium, also belonging to the Artemisia genus, and it is no coincidence that it is equally renowned for its thousand virtues.
The Genepi plant, protected species
Due to its fame, mainly since the 18th century, genepì herb has been widely used to create decoctions, liqueurs, infusions, ointments, and so on. Unfortunately, although the preparations were used to cure numerous ailments, this practice caused the impoverishment of the species, which risked extinction by convincing the authorities to declare it a protected species.
The Genepì grows in excellent conditions, sprouting between rocky peaks that reach up to 3,000 meters, in the rubble, on the morainic soils, at the foot of the glaciers, braving the frost in its stubborn resistance to winter as a perennial species.
Today, the Genepì used for the liqueur, therefore, derives from crops scattered cultivation throughout the Alps, mainly located at lower altitudes (1900-2000 m asl) than the habitat where it grows spontaneously (2.200-3.000 m asl).
The thousand legends of Genepì
An old Valais saying says that the Genepì “fait du bien à madame quand monsieur le boit”. Although there are no scientific studies about it, its energizing and invigorating properties are perceptible with every sip.
Beyond his disgetive power, the Genepì has been believed responsible, over the centuries, for the most disparate effects. An astonished Rousseau, for example, on his Les confessions, describes the death of the poor gardener Claude Anet, who, having cooled down after climbing along the alpine slopes just to collect the rare plant, contracted lethal pleurisy that not even the genepì could cure.
More scientific are the observations of the Turin botanist Carlo Allioni who, in his Rariorum Pedemontii Stirpium of 1755, thus extolled its virtues: “alpine wormwood, called by the alpine people by the term Genepi, serves many ailments and, by promoting sweating, our physicians use it successfully in all those who need sweating exhalation“.
Better cold-like aperitivo, straight like a disgestive, or hot?
So, how to drink the legendary Genepì? His uses of him are truly varied. It can be taken straight, as a tonic and digestive,, on the rocks or with seltzer to enjoy it and quench your thirst fully, or hot, prepared as a grog, for an energetic and invigorating effect.
But also, as a cocktail it doesn’t fail to amaze. A favorite in pre dinners and after dinners, Genepì lends itself as a unique flavoring for long drinks.
Finally, let’s not forget its use in the kitchen to prepare tasty first courses and fantastic desserts.
By the way, if you want to have some precise recipes, don’t forget to follow our blog: they’ll be coming soon!
The genepì in our producers proposal
If this article has piqued your curiosity and you can’t wait to try some Genepì-based preparations, we have good news. In our shop, you will find two exceptional products, excellent for fully savoring the famous alpine grass.
The first is the classic and infamous liqueur Genepì from the Rostal company. It is a top-quality product based on the homonymous herb grown in organic form, of which a small stem is present, as a graceful ornament but above all as a flavoring, in the bottle itself.
The genepì plant is not very productive, and still, there are no varieties capable of guaranteeing a constant yield. All this did not discourage Gaston Haenni (the founder of the company and father of the current owner Fabrice), who threw himself into this adventure, becoming partly responsible for the recent rediscovery of this mythical liqueur even in the new generations. A winning choice, which also earned him the prestigious Prix d’innovation agricole suisse.
Another exciting and particular product is the Gin Genepi from the Valais company o2Vie. It’s a Gin with a distinctive and decisive flavor. All the ingredients and, in particular, the legendary genepì of the Alps blend give a subtle and balanced character. Distilled in the traditional alembic, the alcohol content is brought to 45 degrees to enhance its aroma.