An intense summer sun that lasts for at least a week and a little watery, very sweet and perfectely ripe tomato. These are the two indispensable elements for a good tomato extract, or as it is said in Sicily, the astrattu, the essential element of many tomato-based traditional recipes, a choral preparation involving the all women of the family for weeks, giving a reddish coloration and flavour to any balcony, terrace, and courtyard of many Sicilian villages.
It is an important rite of the Sicilian cuisine that every year involves entire communities in the choice of a long and continuous sunny period, trying to prevent that the scirocco wind boil the tomatoes and make them become sour, perpetuating unwritten rules and superstitions so that this utmost summer preparation is perfect. Popular superstitions that tell about an ancient peasant culture that, maybe today can make you smile. That of the tomato extract, in the past, was an absolutely feminine rite connected to moon cycles, that women, like ancient priestesses, celebrated in complete purity.