Like everything else in Italy, also Christmas traditional meals depend on the region. But, here below are some of the favorite traditions that you can find in Italy during holiday season.
Christmas Eve Dinner
According to tradition for Christmas Eve you’ll not eat any meat. It’s all fish and vegetables. Don’t miss the “giorno di magro”: eating lean to help purify the body for the holiday.
Italian tradition want the “capitone” as principle dish of Christmas Eve meal, although it’s becoming less and less popular. Often, it’s more common have fish like baccalà or shellfish. In center of Italy, especially in Rome, local “pezzetti” are served: little fried cubes of ricotta, artichokes and zucchini. In southern Italy a special starter is a mix of broccoli and seafood.
After the starters, it’s the turn of pasta of course. In the North, especially in Lombardy, lasagna is covered with parmesan and seasoning, while in Naples it’s classic vermicelli with clams and mussels.
Christmas Day lunch
The main dish of Italian Christmas lunch is regional pasta. Usually, a typical Christmas meal start with the traditional “pasta in brodo” or pasta in broth. In Bologna, you can taste the meat-filled tortellini in capon broth, while in Ferrara pasta is stuffed with pumpkin filling.
After the pasta time, at one time eel used to be the main course for most Italian families, even if now many in Italy prefer to eat stuffed turkey or pork.
Then, of course, there’s the dessert: guaranteed the sweet breads or panettone, eaten across Italy. Other desserts include cavallucci, cookies with the image of a horse; le dita degli apostoli or fingers of the apostles chocolate or coffee flavored ricotta filled omelettes; and mostaccioli, spiced nut pastries typical from Rome.
If you haven’t had time to taste every specialties, don’t worry: Christmas season in Italy continues until the day of Epiphany.
Stay tuned for an upcoming post about Italian New Year lucky food!