A few days ago, my father came back home and brought a souvenir from the Aeolian Islands with him. No, he wasn’t back from vacation. He would certainly like it, but he received this gift from one of his clients. It was a tray full of Aeolian Nacatuli. They are pastries of short pastry flavored with Malvasia, which is one of the most popular white wines in the Mediterranean, and have a filling of almonds, sugar, citrus fruits, and cinnamon. But their main feature is undoubtedly their appearance, similar to that of precious embroideries.
Let’s see more details about these pastries.
A bit of history
If today we can tickle our appetite with the Nacatuli, we must thank the various dominations that have marked the history of the Aeolian Islands, and now I’ll explain why.
All the conquerors introduced new food products, specifically:
– the Greeks brought wine;
– to the Phoenicians, we owe the spread of the almond tree;
– the Arabs left us the citrus fruits;
– to the Venetians, we owe the introduction of white grapes used to produce Malvasia.
As you can see, many of the ingredients used to make the Nacatuli arrived in the Aeolian Islands thanks to the dominations.
The preparation of the Nacatuli
According to the client of my father, who was born in the Aeolian Islands, preparing the Nacatuli takes time. That is the reason why it is usually more than a single person who makes these pastries.
The initial stages are the simplest ones. I refer to the preparation of the dough, which requires flour, lard, eggs, sugar, Malvasia, and grated tangerine peels. Then we proceed with the filling, which consists of peeled and chopped almonds, cinnamon, sugar, and tangerine juice.
The most complicated moment is that of decoration, which requires a lot of skill, and I don’t think I have much of it… 😅
The women of the island use pizzicaruolo to pinch pasta. With the word pizzicaruolo, I mean knurled brass tweezers that make it possible to create beautiful decorations.
Finally, to complete the masterpiece before they put it into the oven, expert hands add roses, prepared with the same dough used to make the Nacatuli.
The dessert is ready!
We liked them. The flavor vaguely resembles an almond paste, but it is much more delicate. And the fact that each pastry has its unique shape, different from that of the other ones, makes it even more special.
Finally, you must know that Nacatuli are typically Christmas pastries, but luckily you can now taste them at any time of the year 😁
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P.S.: we have just come back home from holiday. We spent three days in western Sicily and we will talk about our trip in the next articles. We hope you like them 🙂