A gift from the Vesuvius
The piennolo’s tomato from the Vesuvius DOP (Lycopersicon esculentum) is one of the most typical and versatile products of the agriculture and cuisine in Campania. Cultivated on the Vesuvius, the tomato beneficts of the gifts given it by the vulcanic territory, which gave it some of the most distinctive characteristics: the oval shape with a pointy extremity (also called “pizzo”), the bright red color and, above all, the unique, intense and lively taste, characterized by a typical slightly acidic aftertaste.
The positive influence of the Vesuvius inspired a legend which tells that the roots of the piennolo’s tomato are nourished by the lava of the Vesuvius, and that’s the reason why that kind of tomatoes has such an intense and distinctive taste.
This particular result does not depend only on the fertile vulcanic territory, but is linked to the traditional conservation tecnique, called indeed “of piennolo”, that involves the union of some bunches of mature tomatoes, till the creation of a larger bunch that will be left hanging in outdoor places (for examples, on the balconies), ensuring thereby an optimal conservation of the harvest: over the months, the tomatoes, while losing their pomposity, will assume and keep inalterate their delicious flavor.
Indeed, it is not rare to spot on the balconies of the Neapolitan houses, mostly in summer, the presence of the piennolo’s tomatoes hunged with the tecnique of the bunches.
The attributes that make the piennolo’s tomato a product of such a long conservation without any alteration are caused, obviously, by the climatic factors of the Vesuvian area. Here, the soil consisting of the pyroclastic material coming from the volcanic eruptions, has provoked the huge presence of organic acids that contributed to the creation of that acidulos and intense taste that distinguish that kind of tomato.
Therefore, it is not a surprise that the piennolo’s tomato has become one of the most famous and used ingredients of the Neapolitan cuisine, not only for its good taste, but also for its great versatility. Besides being the protagonist of a lot of delicious sauces, the piennolo’s tomato is widely used by Neapolitan chefs for the creation of many variants of traditional dishes and pizzas that, with the use of that kind of tomato, assume a new and unusual flavor that it is impossible to find elsewhere.