|Photo Credit: terrenormanne.it|
Main ingredient of these sweets is the "pasta di mandorle", almond pastry, which took its name Martorana after the aristocratic woman Eloisa Martorana, who made build a Benedicte Monastery near the church of S. Maria dell'Ammiraglio at the end of the XII century. This church is infact also known as Martorana.
Nuns to celebrate the festivity of All Saints used to prepare these almond sweets that reproduce forms and colors of many fruits and vegetables such as cauliflower, tomatoes, carrotts, chestnuts, peaches, apricots, mandarines, figs, apples, pears and a lot more.
Regarding the names, it was also called "pasta reale" because was particularly appreciated at the table of the King of Sicily Ruggero II, while the term "marzapane" has Arab origins: marzaban was a measurement used to indicate the capacity of a wooden box, where usually were sent almond sweets coming from Armenia or Cyprus.
Afterwards with the same pastry they also started to make sheep for Easter, to remember the sacrifice of the Lamb. And since those years the tradition has been kept alive for the generations to come.