With Christmas right around the corner, I have been thinking about the traditional Christmas feasts enjoyed in Italy. We are all inundated with ideas for our own Christmas fare and most of us already have our menus started for the holiday. I have our Christmas brunch with the entire family planned out.
I thought that it would be fun to dig into some research to get a better idea of what types of menus will be prepared in Italy at Christmas time.
Christmas feasts in Italy are enjoyed in the evening of Dec. 24, Dec. 25 or Dec. 26, or even all three. As we would expect, the Christmas holiday menu varies from region to region. By exploring these regional dishes, we’ll treat ourselves to some dishes that we are familiar with, some unique surprises, and maybe some inspiration that we may apply to our own Christmas menu. There are some 20 regions in Italy. Each region has its own food identity for every season. But in no season is the range of dishes more diverse than at Christmas.
For our purposes, the best approach to this is to build three menu options representing the regional grouping. Let’s get this food tour started in the center of Italy. This region includes
Menu No. 1 (Region includes Lazio, Marche, Abruzzo, Tuscany, and Emilia Romagna)
Menu No. 2 (Region includes Lombardi, Piedmont, Liguria, and Veneto
Menu No. 3 (Region includes Sicily, Calabria, Puglia, and Campania)
These three menus are only a small sampling of the hundreds of Christmas dishes prepared in every city, town, and region of Italy. Every area seems to put its own spin on feasting during the Christmas holiday.
But what about the Feast of the Seven Fishes? When you look at all the facts and myths that surround this popular feast, it would appear that the Feast of the Seven Fishes took root among Italian Americans around 1920. The feast was clearly established right here in the United States.
The Italian-American immigrants brought their religious customs, their love of the sea, their traditions of multi-course meals and even their regional diversity with them to this land. It is from this that I believe The Feast of the Seven Fishes was born.
I would be doing us all a disservice if I neglected to mention Panettone. This sweet bread is beloved by Italians worldwide and goes hand in hand with Christmas. In Italy, Panettone is eaten with coffee, prosecco, or Moscato following the Christmas Eve meal. Plus, it is perfect with Christmas morning coffee.
I hope that you have gotten some ideas for your Christmas menu.
From our house to yours, we send wishes for a very Merry Christmas. Buon Natale!