Have you ever wanted to celebrate the holidays with Italian food? Maybe you want to try something different this year and love Italian food, or maybe you’ve been invited to spend the holidays with Italian friends or are fortunate enough to actually be spending the holidays in Italy. What Italian food is appropriate and traditional? Well, like many other cultures, Italians have certain food traditions for certain holidays.
The biggest tradition is with Christmas and it starts on Christmas Eve. The traditional Christmas Eve meal doesn’t include a lot of Italian food that foreigners may be familiar with. That’s because the Italians observe a type of symbolic fast which actually equates to more of a light dinner. This means that there will be no Italian food that includes the typical meats. Instead the Italian food will be centered more around seafood including fish, snails, and frogs. That may sound a little more French than Italian, but it’s a great time to experience some excellent traditional Italian food that is hard to find outside of Italy.
The next day on Christmas the food may be a little more familiar. The first course is a very well known Italian food, tortellini. This pasta dish filled with meat is more in keeping with what most people envision when thinking of Italian food. After the meal dessert consists of one of two types of cake, either panettone or pandoro. If you’re in Milan or spending the holidays with a family from Milan it will be panettone. This cake like bread takes days to make and is an Italian food that not many people know of, despite it being a symbol of Milan. The other traditional cake is pandoro, a sweet bread that is often made to look like a mountain complete with white sugar icing giving it a snowy finish. Christmas is a great time to taste the sweeter side of Italian food.
Easter Sunday is another holiday that brings families around the table. The holiday starts out with breakfast. Not too many people think of breakfast when thinking of Italian food, but Easter Sunday starts off with a feast of salami and boiled eggs with cakes and pizzas all washed down with fine wine. That night the Italian food of choice will be dishes that rely on lamb, avoiding other meats. The evening will be finished off with wine and cakes.
The last holiday that has importance to those who love Italian food is St. Joseph’s Day. This holiday is in commemoration of St. Joseph saving Sicily from famine. This holiday centers on a rather unknown Italian food, the fava bean. It was this bean that saved Sicily from starving. So, while this bean is not native to Italy, there are many Italian food dishes that are centered on it in celebration of St. Joseph’s Day. The day is spent giving food to the needy, eating doughnut like pastries and enjoying good Italian food.
Anytime is a good time for Italian food, but the holidays really make authentic Italian food shine as families get together to celebrate with traditional dishes. Try celebrating the holidays with Italian food and you’ll be introduced to a side of the cuisine that many don’t know exist.