One of the things I love most about Italy is the open-air fruit stands. The paternal side of my family owns a produce company, where they act as the middleman between the growers and the retailers. So, when I see the fruit stands I have a particular interest. In Sicily we all stopped at a fruit stand outside the fish market to buy fruit. If you walk down a side-street, you’re bound to find a fruit stand in Sorrento or Capri. It’s funny seeing how the health codes of each country are so different. While the open-air stalls by the fish markets or on the street are so convenient and appealing, there is no way that would pass the health code in the US. However, the stands have definitely benefited me when I miss breakfast and we’re rushing to the train station, so I’m really not complaining….
When we were in Sorrento we wandered down a street and saw a stand with the largest lemons I’ve ever seen. Seriously, they were about the size of Molly’s head. When we were in Capri we saw them again, and our guide Ernesto told us that they’re native to the area and they simply require sunlight and water. It sounded like such an easy recipe, but they were the most unique fruit I’ve ever seen.
We learned in our lectures that lemons aren’t native to Italy, because the Romans only knew about the citron until after the Romans invaded the Middle East. The lemons, native to Asia (specifically China), were proven to grow most successfully in the south of Italy in areas such as Sicily and Capri. To see the lemons growing firsthand in the southern region – and at the size that they were – really drove that lesson home.
|The Sorrento fruit stand|
|Comparing the lemons to Molly's head|