A small and very fragrant citrus: the Calabrian lime


Limon Calaber fructu minima rotundo angustioribus et brevioribus foliis”: this is how in 1726 Paolo Bartolomeo Clarici identified the Calabrian round lemon by describing its characteristics.

Lime (Citrus limetta) is a citrus fruit characterized by a very delicate scent and a yellow-green skin, with a sweetish or slightly acidic and not very savory pulp, and is another of the Protected (Traditional) Agri-food Products of Calabria (PAT).

The variety grown in the upper Ionian coast of Cosenza is Citrus limetta umbilicata hispanica or Spanish limo.

Calabrian Limetta

The fruit stands out for being small and round, with an umbo, almost completely surrounded by a deep groove.

Dialectally called piretta, it has been cultivated for centuries in the Piana di Sibari, where it has found an ideal climate for its adaptation.

It is also known by the name of Calabrian limoncello or Calabrian lime, used a lot in the preparation of liqueurs and cocktails.

It has an intense aroma, rich in essential oils, with a fine peel; details that give it excellent organoleptic qualities and that make it one of the products of excellence of its kind. According to some, it is a hybrid between cedar and another citrus fruit that is not better defined.

Limetta cocktails

The origin and history of Citrus limetta or lima dulcis (as Giovanni Battista Ferrari defined it at the end of 1500, in his work “Hesperides”), are very fragmentary and little is known about its past.

It almost certainly spread from India (where different varieties of sweet limes are still grown today, called in Hindi musambi or mosambi, with which sweet and refreshing juices are made) to Asia Minor, Egypt and other countries of the Mediterranean basin, in which it has been present for many centuries.

It forms small trees or large erect, branched and thorny bushes, its flowers are white and fragrant, single or in inflorescence, and are produced from spring to autumn.

Among the sweet citrus fruits it is the least known, but it is sought after by connoisseurs who appreciate both the beauty and the goodness and taste of this fruit. As with most citrus fruits, sweet limes are rich in vitamin C and potassium, and are used to fight the flu and colds.

Fresh Limetta slices fall into water

Their juice is rich in substances that stimulate the digestive system by helping the stomach to regulate gastric juices, and this is why in Calabria, with its rinds, an excellent piretta liqueur is made for the end of a meal.

This juice with a pinch of salt is also useful against constipation and nausea.

It also increases appetite, purifies the blood, is highly thirst-quenching and cools the body.

In India, it is one of the most consumed among citrus juices, and in oriental cuisine it is also used to marinate meat (as it enhances its flavor without contrasting it with the acidity that other citrus fruits have) and to dress salads.Finally, it is used in the food industry for the production of soft drinks, jams and sorbets.

More Calabrian Limetta

This citrus fruit is particularly cultivated to obtain the essential oil from its peel.

The essence, very fragrant and similar to that of lemon but more delicate, is appreciated by the perfume industry to create unusual perfumes, detergents and refined deodorants.

Calabrian limetta citrus: another small but great fruit made in Calabria, to discover and taste!

The gastronomic culture of the fifth quarter: “Morzello” of Catanzaro


From North to South in Italy there are many gastronomic traditions linked to the culture of the fifth quarter: we are talking about the Morzello of Catanzaro, flat symbol of the cuisine of the capital city of Calabria. Poor cuisine has become gourmet: a return to the peasant world made of simple and genuine dishes but also very tasty, increasingly sought after and re-proposed by renowned restaurants and starred chefs.

Morzello with “pitta” bread

Perhaps the fifth quarter gastronomic culture is the best example evident of the revenge of these preparations which literally took transformed from scraps into delicacies. But what is meant by ‘fifth quarter’? The fifth quarter groups together everything that is not part of the four parts defined as “noble” (front and rear) of the meat of cattle, pigs and sheep.

The animal is split symmetrically into two parts and then back into another two; everything left over represents an extra quarter. The fifth quarter is therefore what is edible among offal, liver, heart, lungs, kidneys, small intestine and tripe (i.e. forestomach ). In addition to the internal organs we find the head, tongue, tail and legs. The fifth quarter also includes giblets from wild and poultry. delicacies for gentlemen, other than for poor cuisine.

Now “we also eat eyes and ears ”. So, with a clear turnaround, the fifth quarter is not only now it has become a fine food, but also a tale and an emblem of various regional cuisines and street Italian food. Morzello of Catanzaro is one of these.

Quinto quarto” (“fifth quarter”) tab

The morzello (in dialect ‘u morzeddhu catanzarisa) is the gastronomic pride of the capital city of Calabria. A very spicy and fragrant mixture of offal and parts of tripe of calf, the dijuneddhi, of which rumen, abomasum, reticulum and omasus (the so-called “centupezzi“), esophagus, lung, spleen and heart (optional) facts in small pieces. The morzello cooks slowly in a large tiana (large pot) in tomato, generally with bay leaf and oregano.

After having fooled for a few hours, once ready, it soaks in classic Catanzaro pitta. It is bread in the shape of a flattened donut, narrow and with very little crumb called ‘wagon wheel’, specially prepared by bakers. Morzello is eaten strictly hot, that is before it hardens.

It was traditionally the snack of the workers around 9-10 in the morning they refreshed themselves after the first efforts in the fields, in the streets, or in the ‘putiche‘ (shops called morzeddhara years ago). There are several opinions on its origins: there are those who think it was born at the time of the Spanish domination of the region and the roots are to be sought in the hinterland of Catanzaro.

The name morzeddhu would derive from the Latin past participle morsus, ‘bitten, eaten’. In Spanish almuerzo, is the mid-morning meal (from admordium, composed of ad more bite); also in Spain there are dishes based on offal called morzilli.

Foreground of morzello

In this regard, the linguist Gerard Rohlfs (Rohlfs 1977, p. 444) translates with mursiellu (murziellu, mursillu, murzeju, morsiellu, murzeddu etc.). ‘The frugal breakfast that farmers have in the early hours of the morning’.

Always the Rohlfs with morzeddhu then also indicates the calf entrails. Morsello then in the Italian vocabulary is a piece of food, a bocconcino (in French morsel) and in Catanzaro dialect morzha morzha really wants “a small pieces”, such as those of morzello. In many Calabrian dialects the term morzu (muorzo, morsu, muorzu) means ‘bite, piece, squat’ (nu morzu and pane’).

Others believe that the morzello can date back to the period of domination of Saracen, between the ninth and tenth centuries, or coming from Jewish culture. Popular folklore tells a legend about the birth of the morzello , told by the Borgese poet and writer Achille Curcio in the early years of ‘900. It speaks of a poor woman from Catanzaro who lived in the Tùvulu district, Chicchina.

Widowed with two children to support, she was during the Christmas holidays in charge of cleaning up the courtyard where the animals were slaughtered. Having nothing to eat for the holidays, he collected all the leftovers from the meat, took them home and cooking them with other ingredients like soup, giving birth to the morzello.

Morzello dishes

Another protagonist is the ancient pitta: in vulgar Greek it is πίττα, in Serbian pita and in Albanian pite and for everyone it is a focaccia, a flatbread of bread; some think it comes from the Latin picta , meaning “painted”.

In some areas of Catanzaro they also call it cuddhura; that casareccia is made with wheat flour and was once exposed, tied to a wall or door, in front of inns to call customers back, as if to say “Here we eat and drink well”. To eat morzello you used to follow some rules: the pitta is divided into four parts which are then opened halfway, but not completely, like if it were a pocket. Then you have to soak the inside of the pitta with a little sauce, fill it with meat and after having wet the two sides, you can finally eat.

The people of Catanzaro like to say that “‘u brodu t’à dde school gargi gargi” that is, that the gravy must drain from the sides of the mouth at the first bite given to the sandwich. The poet Giovanni Sinatora defines him as the illustrissimu morzeddhu, sovereign undisputed of the now few taverns and trattorias in the city (the old ‘putiche’) we can define it as a real social dish that yes handed down from generation to generation.

Morzello tiana

For years, it has represented a symbol of identity and sharing, which recalls the rituality of food that unites us so much. Morzello is that street food that unites all peoples, above all of the Mediterranean: food is prepared, sold and consumed outdoors and col its smell that spreads through the streets attracts all passers-by. In Catanzaro, sauté is also prepared, ‘u suffrittu, made with meat pork (leg, bacon, heart, lungs, tongue and liver) made a small pieces.

It is fried and cooked in red wine with the addition of oregano, chilli, tomato concentrate, bay leaf and salt and always goes with the pitta. During Lent, and especially on Good Friday, the alternative is being prepared of the morzello of meat, that of cod. In the families of the capital, morzello is consumed on New Year’s Eve.

The fifth quarter and its tradition, as we said, are somewhat rooted everywhere in Italy. In Turin we find the Piedmontese financier, a mixture of offal from beef and chicken, in Florence the legendary lampredotto sandwich, in Rome there are succulent pajata and in Palermo the most famous of the streets food, the pani ca ‘meusa.