There are marriages and then there is true love. The same can be said about food versus divine culinary experiences.
My husband is from the beautiful island of Sicily, native to an east coast gem overlooking the Gulf of Patti. If you have never been, then definitely consider a summer get away here! The terrain is chock full of surprises, a culinary goldmine of intoxicating flavors, sultry heat, and vibrant personality.
From dusk till dawn, sun-drenched locals make an art form out of lounging, dining, playing and parading. In a nutshell, it’s a welcome hot mess.
Jealous perhaps? You have company.
Farmers from the outside world are green with envy. Thanks in part to some serious volcanic action, Sicily holds thousands of years of rich vegetation under its belt. Now let’s face it, lava is clearly not a welcome visitor to low-lying villages, but there’s no denying a little goes a long way.
Treasures run deep and wild in this territory and size clearly has no bearing on worth. Take for instance one of Sicily’s most beloved gems…the pistacchio. By the way, it’s pronounced “pee-stah-KEY-oh” not “pee-stah-SHEE-oh”. Let us all embrace the ‘K’. OK?
Hop into my Maserati (because that’s exactly how we travel in fantasy land) as we head northwest of feisty Mt. Etna to the city of Bronte, famous for its flourishing pistacchio trees. This seemingly innocent, yet tempting commodity is a reminder of the Arabs who once ruled the region. You can either thank them for their contribution or like me, blame them entirely for your nutty obsession. Rather than lament over my usual Friday night binge, I choose to celebrate Bronte’s “green gold” or as they call it “oro verde”. In fact, pistacchio di bronte is so amazing that the city holds not one, but two weekend festivals, back to back in late September. And who could blame them?
On a good day, Sicilians should just bow down at the flanks of Mt. Etna. All of that fiery passion has produced to-die-for essential ingredients, thus gifting us the most mind-blowing traditional desserts: torrone paste, gelato al pistacchio and cassata (just a few goodies worth mentioning).
Now pistacchio alone is quite good but this emerald nut deserves a worthy mate.
“Pistacchio di Bronte, meet the ever so succulent, Coscia Pear.”
Although Coscia is a Tuscan beauty, it is argued that the finest of this variety grows under the Sicilian sun. So if you’re looking for love or fancy a hot mess, but will gladly accept both wrapped in dark chocolate, then try this recipe for Torta di Pistacchi, Pere e Cioccolato.
FUNNY NOTE: Coscia in italian means “thigh”, so forgive me when I say you will definitely want to get your hands on one of these. But if you’re out of luck, try an Anjou. It’s a lovely alternative. And no, you’re not cheating.