I always go to Italy for one week in October. This is actually my favourite time to visit as there is lots going on in my local town with the “sagra” – the annual town’s festival. I always meet many of my old school friends and people I know and to my childrens delight there is also a fun fair. The weather at this time of year is usually still quite good and honestly.. I love the harvesting season: pumpkin, nuts, pomegranates, apples.. and the first Sicilian lemons too.
On the last Sunday of October there is a large market in town. You can find everythere there from clothing to homewear, toys and food.
There is a distintive smell at the market: roasted chestnuts are being sold on many stalls and you walk about and munch them whilst walking. Just like you would do with ice cream!
Roasted chestnuts are incredibly moreish and very popular in Italy.
A big smile for the camera please 🙂
Lots of chestnuts!
Walnuts are fantastic when they are fresh. I try to buy them always with their shell as they can lose their freshness quite quickly. They are incredibly good for you.
Sicilian almonds, compared to other types of almonds have a thicker and harder shell that protects the intensely flavored almond seed inside so they contain more oil and therefore more flavour.
Pomegranates have seen a “return” during the last 10 years. They are packed with vitamins and they are delicious squeezed on or added to food.
The Sicilian stand is always my favourite and it is always there every year. It is perhaps a little early for lemons but they are slowly coming into season. Sicilian lemons have an incredible perfume which you can smell in your hands after handling them. Look at these lemons, they are green but they are perfectly ripe. You hardly ever see these in a supermarket. Sicilian lemons are usually green until December when temperatures go below 50F or 10C.
To make them more “appealing” for the consumer lemons go through the process known as “deverdizzazione” or stewing which consists of subjecting the green fruit at a temperature of about 30C – 85F in an atmosphere saturated with water vapor and ethylene gas.
I certainly would not choose to buy lemons that have undergone this process!
This is also harvesting time for olives which you can find “crude” or raw too.
A harvest display with homemade cakes by the local cookery school.
The queen of the veggies is the pumpkin with pumpkin bread being sold everywhere in bakeries.
You also see lots of chrysanthemums on sale at this time of year. During the Halloween weekend, on November the first it’s “Ognissanti”, all Saints Day and people visit the cemetery taking usually chrysanthemum flowers to their relatives who have departed.
Now forget the harvest… at most festivals there is a persistent and luscious endearing smell of cakes which makes your mouth water. These brioches filled with custard and nutella were irresistible!