Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Everything is Bigger in...Italy: The Almafi Coast

On a recent trip to the Almafi Coast, one thing kept popping up everywhere we would go, lemons!  These were no ordinary lemons; these were the biggest lemons I have ever seen in my life, and I just couldn't fathom how they could get so big. As Italy has a Mediterranean climate and the Almafi Coast is known for its lemons and limoncello, I was curious to learn more. After some research and having a segment of lecture specifically on lemons, I have learned that everything isn't bigger in Texas...although we may still like to say that. In the lecture, I learned that lemons exact origin are unknown, but it is likely that they are from either India or Asia. Lemons are also classified as a hesperidium - which is actually a berry. Known for their high content of Vitamin C, lemons were used to help prevent scurvy in James Lind's experiments in 1747. Still, I was did these lemons get to Italy and why are they so huge? After doing some research, I learned that there are several varieties of lemons and they are each used for different purposes. According to a Rick Steves article on "Lemons in Italy," the enormous "lemons" actually aren't lemons, they are citrons. A citron is a large pulpy fruit, and it was one of the first citruses in Italy. These citrons are more commonly used for marmalades. The sfusato sorrentino variety of lemon is grown in Sorrento, and it is smaller than a citron. Both the sfusato sorrentino and the sfusato amalfitano are commonly used for sweets such as a granita (which I tried, and it was delicious), limoncello, and a dessert called Delizia - which I didn't realize I had eaten until I did this research. Delizia is a small dome cake with whipped lemon icing. Here is a picture of the one I enjoyed in Almafi:
Almafi takes pride in their lemons as they were featured on every restaurant menu I looked at. Besides my delicious Delizia, I also had the "Amalfi Lemon Sauce" on local cod that was baked in a bag. One of the most interesting things I have learned is how these different types of lemons are used in various recipes and utilized in a variety of ways. The Italians have mastered lemons and their use along the Almafi coast. There is no secret to the size of the lemons that are all on the Almafi coast. What makes the sizes differ and so significant are the varieties themselves. The way in which they are grown with organic fertilizers and on the terraces with careful growers may impact the size, juiciness, and taste as well. I enjoyed getting to experience and taste the Amalfi Coast lemons. Now that I know all of the varieties and uses I think I am ready to go back and try them out again, perhaps I need to start planning my next trip! Until next time!
Julia Schrank

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