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Hazelnuts From A to Z: 26 Interesting Things to Know

Hazelnuts From A to Z: 26 Interesting Things to Know

From Abellana to Zuccotto, 26 hazelnut benefits, facts and figures: good for your health and taste, hazelnuts are the perfect ingredient for confectionery.

By FDL on

Abellana. Nux abellana is Latin for hazelnut and, in fact, the name given to this fruit in many languages stems from this root. It originates from ‘dried fruit of Avella’, a village in the Avellino province of Italy.

Bob Dylan. Planet Waves is the name of an album released in 1974 by Bob Dylan comprising the track entitled Hazel. In the English language, Hazel is not infrequently used as a girl’s name or as a term of endearment.

Campania. The farming and sale of hazelnuts in this region of South Italy have ancient origins; the typical regional product is the Tonda di Giffoni, a very round nut with a fragrant white pulp.

December 14th is “Hazelnut Day' in Italy, when various towns up and down the country celebrate the cultural significance and nutritional qualities of this seed.

E (Vitamin). With the sole exception of almonds, this is the nut with the highest content of vitamin E, an important anti-ageing vitamin.

Filberts. Hazelnuts are also called Filbert nuts: according to the most widely believed story explaining this second name, it's due to the feast day of French saint St.Philbert, that falls on August 20th. People started applying the saint's name to the nuts that were in season on his feast day.

Gianduia. The indissoluble marriage between chocolate and hazelnuts goes under the name of gianduia, a recipe created in 1806 in the Italian city of Turin. Ever since then, the art of mixing chocolate with hazelnuts has never declined. It has led to the most famous chocolate spread of all, the universally acclaimed Nutella. The gianduiotto is a small chocolate that has recently celebrated its 150th anniversary.

Happiness. 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.

Indie rock. The Noisettes are an indie rock music band from London which rose to success a few years ago with the single entitled 'Don't upset my rhythm (Go Baby Go)'. Their name is a play on words between 'noisette' – French for hazelnut – and 'noise'.

Julian of Norwich. The hazelnut is the symbol of the Revelations of Divine Love, a 14th century book written by Julian of Norwich, the first-ever English book written by a woman. One of the most important Christian mystics, she is venerated by the Anglican and Lutheran churches.

Kyiv cake. A famous Ukrainian cake with alternating layers of meringue, hazelnuts, chocolate icing and a soft butter cream filling.

Linzer. In Germanic countries, hazelnuts are widely used in the form of flour for preparing cakes. The most famous of these is Linzer Torte, a pastry torte with a redcurrant jam filling.

Massaquano. In this small town just outside Naples, every year on 12 December, the eve of Saint Lucy, hazelnuts are thrown from the roof of the 14th century chapel dedicated to this Saint. According to this century-old tradition, hazelnuts represent the eyes of this saint who safeguards our eyesight.

Nocciolaia (hazelnut trader). This is one of the oldest trades associated with the culture of hazelnuts. ‘Nocciolaia’ derives from the Italian word for hazelnut 'nocciola' and refers to the women who used to sell strings of hazelnuts, an activity that occupied a large part of the population of the Sturla Valley in the Genoa province of Italy.

Oil. Hazelnut oil, which is not excessively greasy and slightly sweet, can be used for food preparation and cosmetic purposes. It has a remarkable thermal stability and it is a precious ally for the skin.

Prochet. The chocolatier Michele Prochet, together with Caffarel, perfected the gianduia mixture in 1852 by roasting and finely grinding the nocciola tonda gentile varietal produced in the Langhe district (still one of the most prized products of Piedmont today). Legend would have it that that we owe the first-ever gianduiotto chocolate, with its typical upturned boat shape, to the skilful stroke of a spoon applied to this smooth mixture.

Q-10. The co-enzyme Q-10 is an antioxidant substance produced naturally by the body to protect our cells from free radicals and enable them to grow healthily. As we age, the body produces less Q-10 and this is when hazelnuts can come to our aid, since they are particularly rich in it.

Reus. The Avellana de Reus, or the hazelnut of Reus, a village in the Tarragona province of Spain, is a cultivar of excellent quality, used widely in many Mediterranean recipes and consumed in this area as an accompaniment to an aperitif.

Scotland. An archaeological find of 20 years ago on the island of Colonsay in the inner Hebrides of Scotland has demonstrated the importance of hazelnuts in ancient civilizations: tons of roasted and opened shells were discovered, dating back more than 9000 years.

Turkey. The number one producer in the world, this country far surpasses Italy and the United States (Oregon grows 98% of hazelnuts produced in the USA), rated second and third. Last year, the Turkish crops were damaged by frost which made the price of hazelnuts soar on the global market.

Universal ingredient. There is no course that cannot be improved by a few chopped hazelnuts: from starters to salads, from fresh pasta to desserts, as well as fish and meat dishes, whether Asian or European cuisine is on the menu. They really are a godsend to those seeking a healthy and refined diet.

Very fat. One of the high-fat foods that is “good for you”, those monounsaturated fats that lower our cholesterol levels. Hazelnuts contain 50-60% fat, 15-20% protein and slightly more than 10% water.

William Bouguereau. This is the French artist who painted Les Noisettes, or The Nut Gatherers, an artwork dated 1882 which hangs in the Detroit Institute of Arts.

X-rays. Hazelnuts are the favourite food of the hungry little hamster x-rayed by the BBC in its recent mini documentary Inside a hamster’s cheeks, showing viewers how the cheeks of this small rodent are actually pockets which extend as far down as its haunches.

Yogurt. One of the ingredients of the health&beauty trio. Together with hazelnuts and honey, it not only acts as an elixir of long life: it nourishes the skin as well as the body. To prepare a perfect facial mask, blend it with ground hazelnuts and four spoonfuls of olive oil.

Zuccotto. Inspired by the dome of Florence, this dessert filled with semi-frozen ice-cream was originally created for the ancient Medici family. Today’s version filled with hazelnuts and gianduia is one of the most popular.

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