More than any other season, Christmas is the holiday that holds the most meaning and traditions. Even if you don’t observe Christmas, you probably have festive rituals that celebrate your own family and culture.
As legendary crooner Perry Como sings,:
“Oh, there’s no place like home for the holidays,
‘Cause no matter how far away you roam,
When you pine for the sunshine of a friendly gaze,
For the holidays, you can’t beat home, sweet home.”
For us, the holidays are inextricably linked to food. Traditional Italian fare not only means loads of different dishes, but LOTS OF IT. Big family dinners are mandatory – and the repast isn’t over until you’re groaning and unbuttoning the top button of your pants!
RoseAnn Andolina, Administrator at Michael-Angelo’s, recounts what a Christmas feast includes at her parent’s house.
“When I think about the holiday time of year, especially Christmas, I can’t help but think of the over abundance of food – traditional baked goods, and of course, our Christmas Eve dinner.
Preparations start a month before, and I can remember my grandmother getting up at 4 am to start her traditional baking of turdilli & scallidi – a hometown favourite. Turdilli, a traditional Christmas cookie from Calabria, are sweet deep fried cookies, shaped like gnocchi and drizzled with honey.
The sweets just didn’t stop there. My mom would also make homemade torrone, which is an roasted almond baked nougat.
Crocette – small crosses – are figs cut in half, stuffed with walnuts, baked until golden brown and topped with orange zest
For Christmas Eve dinner we would traditionally have no less than 13 dishes served! Fish is the main course – we don’t eat meat on Christmas Eve.
My grandmother would always serve pasta with anchovy, breadcrumb & topped with broccoli. This dish is only served at Christmas and not at any other time of year.
We also serve baccala, which is a cod fish, pan fried or stewed with tomato & potato.
As side dishes, there are tons of vegetables: rapini, mushrooms, peas, salad, artichokes and more.
Fruit & dessert end the meal! Fruit favourites at Christmas include cactus pears, persimmons, anise, roasted chestnuts – just to name a few!
Dinner is over when the uncles say, ‘Boy, his was even better than last year!’
Christmas is a very special time for us. We hope that however you spend your holidays that you enjoy some time with family – and have a few really good meals to share with them!”
RoseAnn, Sandra & Michael