Set foot on Pantelleria and you will be welcomed by an astonishing balmy scent: wild oregano. The island is tiny, but its volcanic landscape is studded with sturdy bushes of oregano as far as the eye can see.
Oregano thrives in the torrid climate of Pantelleria. Actually, if you ask the islanders, the scorching sun and lava-rich soil are exactly what makes this herb so extraordinarily intense.
La Nicchia oreganobushes belong to the same Pantelleria locals who harvest capers for a living. Everyone has their own couple of bushes of wild oregano on the island.
Pantelleria farmers surrounded wild oregano bushes with local ancient wheats, known to be very tall. This is their ingenious way to protect the fragrant leaves and flowers from the island’s infamous strong wind.
Once at the beginning and once at the end of summer, wild oregano twigs are picked, twined in bundles, and hung in the shade. There, Pantelleria’s salty breeze dries the leaves and flowers gently, concentrating all their potent essential oils.
Just a pinch of La Nicchia dried oregano is enough to unlock the island’s unique essence and fill the room (and the plate!) with a bright Mediterranean zing.