If people call it green gold, there is a reason…
There are treasures in Sicily that deserve to be slowly discovered and revealed. Among them, some are great protagonists of the Italian cuisine tout court.
Bronte, a village on Mount Etna, is known for its green gold and also for a history of mythology, love, betrayal, and cowardice. Some of the characters are Cyclops, the Emperor of Constantinople, Pope Borgia, Admiral Nelson, Heatcliff, Nino Bixio, and Giovanni Verga: all tied in Bronte and perhaps they have never eaten a pistachio …
Bronte means “thunder” and it is the name of one of the Cyclopes in Hephaestus’s forges in the Etna, where he forged Zeus’s thunderbolts.
Bronte’s cave is one of those where the dwarf elephants died when they lived in Sicily and where their skulls were found; The huge hole for the proboscis on the front of the skull was mistaken for an eye of the Cyclops, from which the legend of the Cyclops began. Well yes… dwarf elephants never had the opportunity to taste the pistachio! Only with the Arab invasion, the dwarf elephants arrived to Bronte; indeed, the Muslims planted in the fertile Sicilian lava soil the most exquisite plants from the Middle East: peaches, citrus fruits, and finally pistachios… and from then on, only pistachios remained!
The green gold, the frastuca, like it was called at the time when it was used as a medicine, is really green emerald; the flavor and aroma are incomparable to others and make ice creams, sweet or salty sauces, creams, and desserts unique with an incredible and delicate balance of sweet and salty.
A few years ago, for those who were not from around here, the pistachio was just a green taste served in pubs as appetizer, still too far from being used for homemade ice cream. Today things have changed: more awareness, more desire to find out what the real flavor of this green gold is.
In Bronte, eating pistachios is a ritual that involves the entire population, including women and children.
Planting pistachios is a tradition handed down from father to son without interruption. The peasant culture says that thanks to “rest”, the plant absorbs from the lava soil substances needed to produce richer aromas and an unmistakable taste.
Because of the inaccessible and steep environment and the danger of dispersion of the fruit between the volcanic rocks, the “sciarelle dei lochi”, collection of this fruit is expensive. It is still done manually directly from the trees by dropping the fruits into a container carried on the shoulder or shaking the branches to collect the fruits on cloths lying on the floor; in some cases, it is even done by using an umbrella upside down.
This precious emerald inside the shell is unique only when it is born from the rock. Imitations are unnecessary, because the green pistachio DOP is sweet and fragrant only if the production soil is bathed in sweat and tears …