Southern Italy: a citrus paradise

By Elizabeth Johnson
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CAPRI, Italy – The colorful fruits hang from stands on every corner. Street venders squeeze them of all their tangy juices. Diners sip ice-cold limoncello from tiny glasses after their meal. Perfumeries bottle the fresh scents and spritz away.

From citrons to oranges to lemons to grapefruits, southern Italy is crazy for citrus.
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Their citrus craze began around 70 A.D. when Jewish immigrants brought the citron to Calabria, located at the “toe” of the Italian peninsula. For quite some time, the citron was the only citrus that appeared in Europe. The odd yellow fruit is comparable to an enlarged and somewhat deformed lemon. Some say the Ancient Romans used the large citrons as air fresheners.

Fast-forward 800 years, and sour lemons arrived along with the Arab invasion of Sicily. From there, the rest is history.

From the trees to drinks and recipes, it seems that everything in southern Italy is sprinkled with colorful citrus zest.

Here is a recipe to incorporate citrus in your own kitchen:

Lemon Risotto
6 cups canned low-salt chicken broth
3 ½ tablespoons butter
1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
2 large shallots, chopped
2 cups Arborio rice or medium-grain white rice
¼ cup dry white wine
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (about 3 oz.)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
4 teaspoons grated lemon peel

Bring broth to simmer in large saucepan over medium heat. Reduce heat to low; cover to keep warm. Melt 1-1/2 tablespoons butter with oil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots and sauté until tender, about 6 minutes. Add rice; stir 1 minute. Add wine and stir until evaporated, about 30 seconds. Add 1-1/2 cups hot broth; simmer until absorbed, stirring frequently. Add remaining broth 1/2 cup at a time, allowing broth to be absorbed before adding more and stirring frequently until rice is creamy and tender, about 35 minutes. Stir in cheese and remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Stir in parsley, lemon juice, and lemon peel. Season risotto with salt and pepper. Transfer to bowl and serve.
Recipe from http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/lemon-risotto-106451

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Filed under MU Journalism Abroad, Science ad Agricultual Journalism

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