The season of winter fruit like kiwi, oranges and clementine is finished yet spring fruit is not out yet. Not easy for a seasonal fruit junkie like myself! Imagine how happy I was to discover Italian loquat fruit, or nespole as they are called here. This small plain looking orange fruit’s season starts early in April.
Loquat was introduced in Italy at the end of the 18th century and spread quickly across the country. Perhaps, the popular believe in loquat’s magic powers helped its proliferation: almost every household in the Italian countryside had a nespolo tree as it was said to keep evil witches and bad luck away. Not sure about the witches but a loquat tree is, certainly, a magnet for Italian kids who love climbing up the branches to pick the free treats.
I buy nespole at local markets. The darker shade of orange the better! Never mind brown bruises or the fruit’s small size. I peel the skin and devour their refreshing tangy juicy flesh with a hint of citrus. One kilo of nespole a day keeps me smiling till first strawberries and apricots come out.
In a typical Italian manner nothing goes to waste and the stones from the fruit are used to make Nespolino, a bitter sweet type of liquor. With all the nespole I gobble up I can make buckets of that alcoholic beverage!