December 24, 2018

Buone Feste! Holidays in Italy

Buone Feste literally means "happy holidays". has nothing to do with being politically correct, Italians are just being practical as there are many holidays in this period: Christmas eve, Christmas day, Santo Stefano (the 26th), San Silvestro (the 31st) and the New Year! 

As most of you already know, each region has its own typical dishes and traditions. This also applies to the holidays. Many areas of Italy celebrate Christmas Eve with a big seafood meal, for others its an evening just like any other while there are many “in the middle traditions”. I for example, like to host a seafood dinner with friends on the 24th. Each year I have fun changing the menu with the only constant factor being with friends and different from the previous year.  This tradition began when my husband’s family who usually hosts Christmas day lunch is always the same. If anyone tries to change it, my father –in-law complains loudly.  

It just goes to say how traditional things are in this area. If you ask other Bolognese families, they are eating exactly the same thing, every year.   

This year I am hosting Christmas lunch for the whole family so won’t be able to host Christmas eve dinner with friends. But no, we will not save ourselves any calories, we will make up with our friends on the 27th.

Christmas in Bologna. 
The main meal on Christmas day is lunch so on Christmas morning we generally have a very light breakfast, if anything other than our morning coffee. When the family arrives, I will serve various antipasti including smoked salmon on buttered bread, anchovies served on buttered crostini, culatello salami , Parmigiano Reggiano in chunks and honey. As a first course, the meat filled tortellini served in broth are a must followed by the cotechino which is very much like a salami except it hasn’t been cured so needs to be cooked for a long time. My in-laws love it! I prefer something lighter so I’m planning to also serve bollito, a selection of boiled meats with salsa verde (parsley and caper sauce) and Mostarda di Cremona (cooked fruit in syrup and mustard essence). All of this accompanied with mashed potatoes, lentils my Roman grandma’s way and salad. At the end we will have 2 kinds of pan speziel (or certosino), panettone, dried figs, walnuts and panettone.

Pan speziel is a typical Bolognese cake served during the holidays. I will post a second article talking about the history and comparing the two famous brands of pan speziel in depth.  

Photos of my holiday meal will be forthcoming as it all develops. Check Facebook ( and my Instagram (@Maribel_Italy_Pasta) accounts to see the photos as soon as they are available.

#inmykitchen #italianholidays

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