The Limoncello and the Cosa Nostra
I’m sure everybody knows that the Limoncello is an Italian lemon liqueur mainly produced in Southern Italy, especially in the region around the Gulf of Naples, the Sorrentine Peninsula and the coast of Amalfi, and islands of Procida, Ischia, and Capri. It is also produced in Abruzzo, Basilicata, Apulia, Sicily, Sardinia, Menton in France, and the Maltese island of Gozo. In northern Italy, the liqueur is often referred to instead as limoncino!
In Sicilia the Mafia,-where it is called the “Cosa Nostra” (in English means-Our Thing)-was created in the 19th century as a “cartel of private protection of the Limoncello farms”. The society provided of the protection of the Limoncello business. But later on the Cosa Nostra started to use their fearsome reputation for violence to deter people from swindling, robbing, or competing with those who pay them for protection. For many businessmen in Sicily, they provide an essential service when they cannot rely on the police and judiciary to enforce their contracts and protect their properties from thieves (this is often because they are engaged in black market deals).
Traditionally, limoncello is made from the zest of Femminello St. Teresa lemons, also known as Sorrento or Sfusato lemons. Lemon zest, or peels without the pith, is steeped in rectified spirit until the oil is released. The resulting yellow liquid is then mixed with simple syrup. Varying the sugar-to-water ratio and the temperature affects the clarity, viscosity, and flavor. Opaque limoncellos are the result of spontaneous emulsification (otherwise known as the ouzo effect) of the sugar syrup and extracted lemon oils.
Limoncello is traditionally served chilled as an after-dinner digestivo.
Ingredients: 15 lemons, 1 liter vodka, 3 cups sugar, 4 cups water
1. Zest the lemons, and place zest into a large glass bottle or jar. Pour in vodka. Cover loosely and let infuse for one week at room temperature.
2. After one week, combine sugar and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. DO NOT STIR. Boil for 15 minutes. Allow syrup to cool to room temperature.
3. Stir vodka mixture into syrup. Strain into glass bottles, and seal each bottle with a cork. Let mixture age for 2 weeks at room temperature.
4. Place bottled liqueur into the freezer. When icy cold, serve in chilled vodka glasses or shot glasses.
business! Along the Amalfi Coast, it is usually served in small ceramic glasses that are also chilled. This tradition has been carried into other parts of Italy!