Every country has its own way of setting the Christmas dinner menu. But Italy, divided into regions, provinces and locals all with their own distinct identities and cultures, has an even more eclectic array of traditions concerning the Christmas dinner (or even Christmas Eve lunch). Swide has a selection of some of them…
Aside from Pan de Toni, or Panettone, the typical Christmas dessert, people from Lombardy serve different dishes at Christmas, together with torrone. Christmas lunch menu includes: jellied capon (castrated rooster), Cremona mustard. Stuffed pasta is the queen: pumpkin tortelli traditional to Mantova and Cremona, casoncei (casoncelli), a special kind of filled pasta from North-central Italy, traditional to Brescia and Bergamo, and much more.
Here, almost more important than the Christmas lunch, is the Christmas Eve dinner. They celebrate it with a vegetarian meal (to Catholics Christmas Eve is a fast day, when meat is forbidden): tortelloni, greens filled pasta, and cappelletti (a tiny handmade filled pasta served in broth), the main course is stewed eel or fried fish. For Christmas lunch the menu gets richer: cappelletti or tortellini in broth, boiled meat with sauces, cotechino from Modena…
Here was born St. Francis, the inventor of the Christmas nativity scene. Here too Christmas Eve is very important and is celebrated with many starters such as fried vegetables like broccoli, zucchini, carrots, artichokes but also apples. Broccoli and fish soups are the first courses, followed by fried baccala or stewed eel. For lunch, cappelletti with broth alone or with an egg added to it (which consists of a traditional dish “stracciatella”). Roasted meat or turkey stuffed with chestnuts and sausage constitutes the second. As a dessert, the delicious panpepato, from Terni, with almonds, hazelnuts, raisins, kneaded with chocolate, coffee, honey, flour.
Pasta con le sarde, with sardines, is a traditional dish of the region served for Christmas, too, sarde a beccafico, salads with oranges and herring, meat with pancetta (an Italian bacon), and caponata, different fried vegetables, usually aubergene, seasoned with tomato sauce and onions. For dessert, mustazzoli (with almonds, cinnamon and cloves), and cubbàita” (a honey torrone made with hazelnuts or pistachios).