#55 / What kind of Christmas would it be without a traditional menu?
Christmas is just around the corner: decorations, lights and that festive atmosphere that gets us in the spirit once again. And last but not least there are the gifts, simultaneously a pleasure and an obsession. Speaking of which... Have you checked out our Gift Card?
But beyond this business of gifts, there’s something else that defines Christmas: THE FOOD! And for us Italians who talk about cooking practically all the time, you can’t even imagine...😂
Traditional menus, family recipes (with countless variations 😱), meatless dinner on Christmas Eve, roasts and ravioli on the 25th, “leftovers” fit for a king on the 26th (in Italy this is St Stephen’s Day, another excuse to sit at the table) – essentially, there’s something for all tastes.
What better excuse to whip up one of our itineraries with a traditional dish for us to try? We did it at Easter, then on Halloween, so we simply can’t miss out Christmas! Well then, make yourself comfortable and fasten your seat belt, ‘cause today we’re flying from North to South!
Not least because Milan is my city, I just can’t not start with its legendary Panettone. With candied fruit and sultanas as tradition dictates, or flavoured in countless ways (orange, chocolate, pistachio...), it’s the Christmas sweet bread par excellence – and not just in Italy these days. Here in Milan we like to cosy up in the pastry shop and savour it fresh from the oven; it rises super high and is intensely fragrant... WOW! It’s a little known tradition that a slice of panettone on St Blaise’s Feast Day (3 February) protects you from a sore throat for the rest of winter. A date for the diary, right?!
Pandoro is another extremely popular sweet bread. Denser than Panettone, dusted with icing sugar and with its characteristic star shape, do you know where it comes from? Here’s the answer!
We’re already pretty stuffed, but let’s hop in our sleigh and dash to Alberobello for a lesser known option for dessert. Dear Xxx, let me introduce you to Cartellate: crunchy, fried and then dipped in honey, these sweets look like lace rolled up, almost scrunched up. Delectable, and, what’s more, very cute.
Let’s fasten our seat belts again and land in “my” region of Le Marche. I’m taking you to Offida for a sumptuous Roast Capon: this scrumptious poultry dish is typical in many regions of Italy, but here we’re going to try it flavoured with truffles.
But what kind of Christmas would it be without a lovely first course? You may know that stuffed pastas (like tortellini or ravioli) are popular pretty much everywhere: the filling may vary, from a meat or ricotta base to vegetables or fish. They can come in all shapes and sizes, with any kind of sauce (broth, butter or tomato), and just as many names to go with them (ravioli, agnolotti, anolini, tortelli, tortellini, tortelloni, cappelletti, cappellacci, casonsèi, etc)...
In short, there are myriad variations, but the essence is still the same: pasta made from flour and eggs, with a delectable centre, every time! My favourite? Anolini, in Parma.
At this point I should say bon appétit rather than Merry Christmas... but do you really think I won’t be writing to you again before Christmas?! ;)
Ciao, and enjoy your Sunday!