Pistachio originated in the Mediterranean basin and was brought to Sicily by Arab conquerors sometime after the 11th century BC. The pistachio tree thrives in Sicily’s rich volcanic soil and today pistachio production in Sicily is concentrated in Bronte, a town on the western slope of Mt. Etna. The Pistachio fruit is harvested from late August through October, when the famous Pistachio Festival takes place in Bronte.
The word Pistachio, Pistàkion in Greek, was likely corrupted to “fristach” in Arabic, which would explain why in Sicilian dialect the fruit is called “frastuca”. But whatever the name, it is universally understood that pistachio is Sicily’s “green gold”. It is ubiquitous in Sicilian cuisine and used in all aspects of Sicilian cooking, from pasta to meats, to desserts and liqueurs, as well as eaten plain and roasted. Sicilian pistachio fruit has a highly refined flavor, and is considered by some to be the finest in the world.
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