As the holiday season approaches, many of us begin to reminisce about cherished traditions and memories. Growing up in Italy, I have fond memories of Christmas and the unique traditions that make this time of year so special in Italian culture.
One of the most beloved traditions in Italy is the preparation of the Christmas meal. On Christmas Day, it is customary for the women in the family to come together and prepare a feast fit for a king. I can still remember the hustle and bustle in our kitchen as my mother and grandmother worked their magic with the Italian Christmas traditions.
Christmas lunch would always begin with a series of entrees, showcasing the abundance of fresh produce and flavours that Italy is known for.
One popular entree is giardiniera, a medley of cooked and preserved vegetables in a rich tomato sauce. Another favourite is the Russian salad, a combination of diced cooked vegetables mixed with a creamy mayo sauce. These entrees would set the stage for the feast to come.
Next, the pièce de résistance would be served - fresh pasta. Pasta is a staple in Italian cuisine, and it takes centre stage during the holiday season. The Christmas meal in my family's region of Italy typically features homemade ravioli, filled with a variety of delicious ingredients such as ricotta cheese, spinach, or meat. The delicate pasta parcels would be served with a rich, flavorful sauce, making for a truly indulgent and memorable experience.
After enjoying the pasta course, it was time for the main event - arrosto, or slow-cooked beef. This succulent roast would be cooked to perfection, tender and packed with flavour. The aroma that filled the house as the beef cooked slowly in the oven was simply irresistible. Served alongside roasted vegetables, the arrosto was a highlight of the Christmas meal, bringing warmth and comfort to the table.
And, of course, no Italian Christmas would be complete without a sweet treat to end the meal. Panettone, a traditional Italian Christmas cake, would make its grand appearance. This sweet bread, studded with dried fruits and nuts, is a staple during the holiday season. Served with a warm zabaione sauce, made from eggs and brandy, the panettone becomes a heavenly dessert that leaves everyone with a satisfied smile.
Looking back, one of my favourite memories of Christmas in Italy was the time spent in the kitchen with my mother and niece, making fresh pasta on Christmas Eve. It was a tradition passed down through generations, a time to bond and create something delicious together. The laughter, the flour-dusted hands, and the anticipation.
What traditions make your festive season special? What traditions would you like to create for yourself and your loved ones? We'd love to hear what traditions make your heart sing during the silly season.
Merry Christmas from Mandorle
Giardiniera Making ravioli with mum Panettone with zabaione