Friday, November 1, 2013

Colorful Sicilian Marzipan Fruits: history and origin

Photo Credit: terrenormanne.it
The so called "frutta di Martorana" (Martorana's fruits), also known as "pasta reale" (royal pastry) or "marzapane" (marzipan), are typical Sicilian almond sweets that we prepare and eat only in the period before and soon after the day of November the 1s and the 2nd, which are dedicated in our Christian tradition respectively to All Saints and to the commemoration of the Deads.

Photo Credit: partecipiamo.it
 Main ingredient of these sweets is the "pasta di mandorle", almond pastry, which took its name Martorana after the aristocratic woman Eloisa Martorana, who made build a Benedicte Monastery near the church of S. Maria dell'Ammiraglio at the end of the XII century. This church is infact also known as Martorana. 

Nuns to celebrate the festivity of All Saints used to prepare these almond sweets that reproduce forms and colors of many fruits and vegetables such as cauliflower, tomatoes, carrotts, chestnuts, peaches, apricots, mandarines, figs, apples, pears and a lot more.


Regarding the names, it was also called "pasta reale" because was particularly appreciated at the table of the King of Sicily Ruggero II, while the term "marzapane" has Arab origins: marzaban was a measurement used to indicate the capacity of a wooden box, where usually were sent almond sweets coming from Armenia or Cyprus.

Afterwards with the same pastry they also started to make sheep for Easter, to remember the sacrifice of the Lamb.

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