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Saturday, 20 October 2018 20:50

Martorana fruit

Written by Giuseppe Marco Badami

martorana Every November, Sicilian pastry shops will be filled with colors.

In this period the desserts, besides being good, are even more beautiful! We are talking of course of the fruit of Martorana, typical dessert of the All Souls' Day (2nd November).






What is that?

Martorana fruit is a typical Sicilian dessert, also common in Calabria. It is a famous dessert in the world because its preparation and packaging provides, in shape and appearance at the end of the preparation process, the perfect imitation of fruit and sometimes vegetables. Internally it is similar to marzipan but considerably sweeter and tastier. The basis of his recipe is exclusively almond flour and honey.


Example of a basket with Martorana fruit.



Martorana fruit was made by the nuns of the convent attached to the church of Santa Maria dell’Ammiraglio, or San Nicolò dei Greci, overlooking “Piazza Bellini” and was erected in 1143 by Giorgio d'Antiochia, admiral of the Norman Roger II, king of Sicily. Later, in 1193, it was the noblewoman Eloisia Martorana who had a Benedictine monastery built next to the church and the convent. Since then the whole building took the name "della Martorana" in his honor, and in the same way they were also called sweets prepared by the nuns. Tradition says that the convent garden and the vegetable garden were among the most beautiful in the city, where fruit trees and vegetables grew up that the nuns took care of with dedication. Their pride came to the bishop's ear (some say that he was the pope himself) of that time, which intrigued wanted to go personally to see. The visit, however, was made in the autumn, for the feast of All Saints, when the trees were already devoid of any fruit. The nuns, then, decided to create fruits with almond paste to decorate the trees and embellish the garden in view of his visit.


Church of the Martorana in Palermo.



The Italian word marzipan and the recipe date back to the XIII - XIV century, in reality it is of Arab origin. The marzaban was a light wooden box with a lid that was used for different uses, like keeping the correspondence or more frequently it was used to send desserts prepared with flour, almond paste and other ingredients, which since they had the rectangular shape of pani, also inherited the name, just marzipan.


Example of "marzaban" with the fruit of Martorana inside.


Nothing describes us better as the desserts we eat.
[cit. Michele Renzullo]


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