In Italy, the Christmas holiday period is undoubtedly the most popular of the year! While Italians all respect traditions, they vary from one region to another. A brief overview of Christmas culinary habits in Italy.
Who says Christmas says family meal! Like us, Italians have two traditional meals: dinner on December 24, called Cena della Vigilia , and lunch on December 25. In the north of the country, it is more common to celebrate Christmas on December 25, while in the south, dinner on the 24th is a real custom. Each region has its own traditions, its typical dishes, and the possible menus are numerous!
Different traditions between the north and the south of the country
In the north, you will often find fish toast as antipasti , but also cold meats, cheeses, etc. As a primo piatto , the most common dish is tortellini filled with meat, which can be eaten in broth. As a second piatto , a stuffed capon (which will provide an excellent broth for the ravioli), an oven-baked turkey or even a stuffed guinea fowl roast.
In the south of the country, New Year's Eve meals are generally made with fish. As antipasti , we prepare sandwiches and appetizers based on seafood (marinated anchovies, octopus salad, cod fritters, etc.). As a primo piatto , a famous Christmas recipe is that of spaghetti alle vongole (pasta with clams) and as a second piatto , fish is cooked in various forms: sea bass in a salt crust, scallop gratin, fried squid, etc.
The essential Christmas dessert
Finally… no Christmas without panettone ! This famous filled brioche from Milan serves as a festive dessert and exists today in many variations: stuffed with cream, with chocolate, with pineapple, plain... The true Milanese prefers the classic panettone, with long natural yeast , enriched with raisins, orange peel, citron and flavored with Bourbon vanilla. It is often enjoyed with a warm sabayon or with a bowl of crema al mascarpone , according to the custom of the towns and villages of lower Milan such as Lodi, where this delicious, rich and fresh cheese is produced. Children, for their part, will often prefer pandoro , a variation of panettone from Verona, but without filling and covered with a delicious layer of icing sugar.
Finally, if you have the opportunity to take a trip to Milan before the end of year holidays, you can take advantage of the Fiera Nazionale del panettone e del pandoro which is held there every year in November and admire the windows Milanese pastries full of panettoni, each more delicious than the last. Buon Natale!