There are treasures in Sicily that deserve to be uncovered and savored slowly. Some of them are great protagonists of Italian cuisine.
Bronte, a village on the slopes of Mount Etna, is known for its green gold which is also the story of a mythological distillate, of love, treachery, cowardice. From Cyclops to the Emperor of Constantinople, from the Borgia Pope to Admiral Nelson, from Heatcliff to Nino Bixio to Giovanni Verga: all related to Bronte, who may never have eaten a pistachio …
Bronte means “thunder” and it is the name of one of the Cyclops who forged Zeus’ lightnings at Mount Etna. Bronte’s Cave is one of the quarries where dwarf elephants died when they were still roaming in Sicily. When their skulls were found, the huge nasal hole of the proboscis on the forehead was mistaken for the Cyclops eye … and that’s how the legend of the Cyclops in Sicily was born. Well yes … but the dwarf elephants never had the opportunity to taste the pistachios! Indeed, we must wait until the Arab invasion before pistachios arrive in Bronte; It is the Muslims who sowed the fertile Sicilian soil with the most exquisite plants of the Middle East: peaches, citrus fruits and pistachios, precisely … and from that moment, they were only pistachios!
The green gold, the Frastuca, named so at the time it was used as medicine, is really emerald. Its taste and fragrance are unequalled and make unique ice creams, sauces, creams and candies, thanks to an incredible adaptability in delicate balance between sweet and salty.
Even recently, for those who were not from this area, pistachio was only an ice cream flavor, way too green coloured, sold at gelaterie, or a delicious snack which accompanied the aperitivo. Then things started to change: more awareness, a greater desire to know what is behind the products on the table. In Bronte, it is a real collective ritual that involves the entire population, including women and children.
Green pruning is a tradition that is passed down from father to son. It is a testimony of a culture, that of farming, according to which, thanks to a “resting period”, the plant absorbs, from the lava soil, the substances necessary to produce a fruit richer in aromas, with unmistakable flavors.
Because of the impervious and steep environment, as well as the danger of dispersion of the fruit between the volcanic rocks, the labor for harvesting is expensive. It is still done completly manually, directly from the trees by dropping the fruits inside a container positioned on the shoulder or shaking the branches to collect the fruits on drapes lying at the feet of the plants or, in some cases, using a flipped umbrella.
This precious emerald inside a shell is unique if it comes from the rock.
Imitations are useless, because the pistachio of Bronte DOP is unique… if they call it green gold, there’s a reason for it!