These exquisite marzipan sweets, perfectly reproducing vegetables and fruit, are a true expression of a great gastronomical creativity .
Gracefully placed in wicker baskets or in wooden boxes, they feature in almost every Sicilian pastry-shops windows , particularly during the Festival of the Dead, on November 2, but also throughout the whole year.
No doubt the so named Frutta Martorana was invented some time in the past by the nuns of The Martorana, a cloister, founded in Palermo by the noblewoman Eloisa Martorana, but the history of these small Sicilian culinary masterpieces is surrounded by some legends.
As the story goes, in the Middle Ages the nuns were waiting for an esteemed visitor: the Archbishop of Palermo (or the Emperor Carlo V, according to another version). As the trees of the convent’s lush garden were unusually empty – it was early November -, they decided to sculpt fruits from marzipan and hang them from the trees to impress their guest. The result was a great success and, since then, the Frutta Martorana has become the cloister ultimate sweet, to the extent that it is named after it.
Legends aside, after 500 years from its invention, this sweet is still present in the Sicilian confectionery tradition, tickling every palate and fantasy.