I just wanted to share my feeling about how thrilled I am about going to Italy over the Christmas holidays in less than a month time now!
We booked the flight from Leeds and will be visiting relatives and friends from north to south and then back north again: we will land in Bergamo, spend a day in Cremona at my sister's, where we'll rest for one day or two. Cremona is the place where I studied and spent most of my life and where my recent memories belong to so I really look forward to get there.
This is Cremona famous for the traditional nougat made here, the mostarda and the 'Torrazzo' tower. It's a record high bell tower that makes the city famous as the city of the 3 T's "turun, tettas, turas" ( literally nougat, big tits, and torrazzo :))
Then we travel by car to Napoli to get to my grandma Lucia by Christmas eve.
She's 86 years old and still she spends her days cooking...and planning what to cook for the day after hehe. I love her so much! We'll stay in a nice hotel near her flat in the centre of Naples, Vomero area, as we are a troup of nieces and with our partners and won't fit all in the house to stay overnight, but for sure I ll take many pictures about all the typical Italian Christmas food.
There will be a seafood based home made pasta, for sure. Ah and struffoli as dessert, it's a typical sweet cake made up by many fried balls of dough then covered with honey melted with water. Needs to be tasted to be described :) I tried just once to make them, over my first Christmas here in UK as I felt really homesick (it's always difficult to spend the festive time away from the family I guess) ... well the result wasn't perfect but it made me feel better! This is how Neapolitan struffoli look like, but I prefer without the candies, like this version taken by my very talented cousin Fabio:
check out his amazing work on flickr.com on this link (his nickname is bluedeepblue) http://www.flickr.com/photos/bluedeepblue/
This one is more 'colourful' version of the same dessert:
Now, I cannot think of another Neapolitan dessert more Christmassy than this one.
Struffoli does remind me of those traditional medieval banquet dishes: full of colors and of...everything! Dont't you think?
I love my hometown, but I particularly love it over Christmas time: I adore taking long walks in the crowded narrow streets in the historical centre of Naples, visiting the area of San Gregorio Armeno is a must do: talented artisans sells hand crafted nativity scenes (famous 'Presepe Napoletano' is a tradion for centuries), and you can smell any sort of delicious food from every corner.
There's not a 'typical Italian Christmas menu' as every region, every town has its own tradition. So the one I am used to is the one from Napoli as this is where I spent my childhood.
The tradition is generally a big dinner at Christmas eve, lasting HOURS. I don't feel like I could be able to cope with such a huge amount of food anymore, but I still love the idea of a moment when the whole family manage to gather together on one happy occasion, and of course good food makes everything easier.
A typical -basic- Neapolitan Christmas menu could be:
Seafood tagliatelle (usually with fresh clams)
Baccala' neapolitan way (cod preserved in salt and then fried, sorry the description doesn't make justice)
other sea food such as shrimps, or fish such as Spigola (sea bass).
Insalata di rinforzo (salad made with anchovies, green olives and red peppers)
Struffoli (see above)
Roccoco' (another typical chocolate sweet)
and much more...I will be able to show you my picture when we come back, can't wait!
After Napoli we will travel back to Cremona, have a dinner party with all our best friends that live in nothern Italy and the day after travel even further north to Trieste to see my mum's sister family and spend the new year's eve with her family. After this crazy travelling time we'll fly back to Leeds from Treviso airport (it's not too far from Venice/Mestre) and I am sure I ll have PLENTY of picture to share here on the blog...so please stay tuned!
They' say it's the biggest square in Europe as it faces directly on the bay.
Quite poetic, don't you think? :)
I am looking into presents to bring over, probably some traditional English festive food like Christmas pudding or ...hemm please help me hehe I lack of ideas!
And here is a picture that makes me smile so much: it's from one of our childhood Cristmas spent in Naples,I was probably 6 here, with my sister Margherita (the one with a beige dress) and my two cousins Fabio and Claudia. We tired to take this same picture in the same location a couple of years ago as grown up...but I am not brave enough to post it here hehehe.
In case you wonder, I am the one with the evil face and the red dress hehe. Happy times! Please feel free to comment below and let me know about your plans for the holidays, and if you like also your Christmas menu and home made or original gift ideas!