Food Advent Calendar No.2 – Hazelnut
Our second festive cooking ingredient for our advent calendar is the crunchy hazelnut. This tree hanging nut is popular for its sweet and buttery profile. It has a subtle crunch which has made it a staple in many confectionary and snack products across Europe, the Middle East and America.
An Italian Marriage Made in Heaven
Most probably the hazelnut is most popular for its marriage with chocolate, or as in Italy referred to as gianduia. The recipe of gianduia originated from the Italian city of Turin but ever since we would believe that other places within Italy compete for the mantle of gianduia kings. For example, Ferrero, based in Alba, later created the widely renown Nutella, while the Perugia based confectioner Perugina made a name for itself with its famous ‘baci’ chocolates.
Turkish Soft Power
Turkey is by and large the largest producer and exporter of hazelnuts. They account for approximately 70% of global production. Thinking about it, Turkey does have quite a soft power when you consider how important the hazelnut is for Christmas treat making. Just imagine what Christmas would be like if the Turks overnight decide to freeze the exports of hazelnuts. It has been reported that Ferrero Rocher alone purchase around 25% of Turkey’s hazelnut exports.
Some interesting traditions
In Ancient Rome, it was customary to offer a hazelnut plant, the Corylus avellana, in the belief that it brought happiness. In the French tradition, on the other hand, this plant symbolizes fertility.