It’s a fruit. You’ve never heard of it? Not surprising as it’s one of the rarest fruits in the world. However, thanks to the inclusion of pompia in various Sardinian desserts and liqueurs, the fruit survived.
Its scientific (and pretty accurate) name is Citrus monstruosa. But it could just as easily be known as Citrus misteriosa; its origins are unknown and, until relatively recently, there were only a few hundred pompia trees left in the world – all of these within the area of Siniscola in Sardinia.
So what is it? Well that’s open for debate. It’s certainly a citrus of some kind, growing on a tree that resembles an orange, with fruits the size of a grapefruit, and a gnarly yellow rind and very thick pith.
And the taste? The pulp is so bitter as to be inedible, so it has to be removed, along with the acidic juice; the process takes around six hours. First there is the careful removal of the zest (which can be used to make liqueur), keeping the pith in tact. Then the removal of the pulp, leaving a hollow ball which is soaked in honey and then simmered for around three hours. This is known as sa pompia intrea which can be filled with chopped almond (sa pompia prea).