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The holidays are an important time of year for Italians. Its an occasion where we can get together with family and friends to enjoy food, wine, and fun times.
To celebrate this holiday season, we've put together a set of memories shared by members of the La Tagliata team to help you understand what an Italian Christmas and New Year is like.
Christmas has always been my favourite time of the year.
It's a time to get together with your family which I always look forward to.
Even more important and sweeter is and was, especially when I was a child, the run up to Christmas. My Grandmother is originally from Bologna and the main dish on Christmas Day in Bologna is the world-famous "tortellini in brodo" - roughly translated as "small dumplings cooked in stock".
Traditionally they are handmade and prepared precisely on Dec 8th which is a public holiday in Italy, as it's the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.
My Gran, my Mum and my aunties used to get together and roll the dough, prepare the filling, and shaping the famous "tortellino" which is made in the shape of the belly button of Venus, in keeping with tradition.
I come from a big Italian family and normally we were never less than 20 or 25 for Christmas so hundreds, if not thousands, of tortellini are prepared each year.
Once the tortellini have been made, they are frozen and we wait until Christmas Day to taste those delicious small pieces of culinary art cooked in a tasty chicken and beef stock.
It's one of the memories that I treasure the most and that explains my passion for food more than anything. It also shows what good, authentic food represents for me and for most Italians: family, traditions, and passion. These are also the values that we replicate here at La Tagliata for our guests.
I was born and raised in Rome but my family is from Mantova, a fairytale city, north of Italy near the lake district. Mantova is known for its architectural treasures and artefacts, elegant palaces, and the medieval and Renaissance cityscape.
Our strongest holiday tradition, as for many Italians, is around food. Every region, indeed almost every city, has their own traditional dishes.
Mantova's typical dish for the Christmas Eve is Tortelli di Zucca, or Pumpkin Tortelli. In my family we all help to make the pasta and the filling. In total, it takes about two days. We also travel to Mantova to buy the original, local ingredients even if we celebrate Christmas in Rome.
Christmas Eve is, for us, the most important date. Obviously we all eat a lot, drink an amazing selection of wines and on Christmas Day, we eat Tortellini di Carne in Brodo. This is a meat Tortellini cooked in the vegetable broth. Of course Panettone will be on our tables.
It is so nice to spend a few days with the family and friends, eat great food, drink amazing wines, chat and rest around the fireplace and the Christmas tree.
I’m looking forward to next Christmas already!
Each Christmas my whole family comes together on Christmas Eve to eat and prepare the food and drink we are going to enjoy over the next few days. We start by making dishes with baby pork and baby lamb, and a traditional lentil dish that is supposed to bring fortune. We also prepare pasta with ragu and ravioli filled with spinach and ricotta.
For many of my family who are religious, the 24th is also an opportunity to go to Church and enjoy the festive celebrations.
Throughout the Christmas celebrations we drink a lot of coffee, limoncello, and mirto - which is a typical Sardinian myrtle liqueur.
Once we have finished all of the food we’ve prepared we usually can’t move for the next 3 days!
From the 26th to the 30th, we wait for New Year’s Eve and eat, play games with the family, and think about the year. For the New Year’s celebrations, we spend time with our friends after spending the whole of Christmas with our family.
We are a typical Italian family. We go to church in the morning, and then meet our parents and eat a lot of food in the afternoon. We have everything from turkey to pasta and lasagne. All of our family helps to make the food. While we eat, we tend to drink a lot of wine. Every year my mother’s cousin makes a tiramisu - this is something we all look forward to as she’s been making it since we were all children.
In my family Christmas lunch is one of the most anticipated events of the year.
We are a very big family, the classic Italian one with parents everywhere, and for this reason we start to prepare everything we need for the big event two or three days before.
My mum is a kitchen addict; she loves to cook and I love to give her a hand preparing all the dishes like the homemade lasagna and the guinea fowl stuffed with pork ragu and vegetables.
When the Christmas lunch comes to an end, we used to play board game like tombola and monopoly and exchange gifts.
Christmas lunch is probably the best moment of the year.
Every year all my family, cousins and uncles included, spend Christmas lunch in my grandfather’s house. There, we use to have a massive lunch with fish. My mother cooks the typical fish soup with my uncles in the morning while me and my cousins talk and laugh about everything that happened to us during the year.
After spending many hours at the table, and between jokes and laughs, we eats the typical panettone and zabaione as dessert! After that, we give each other presents and we play cards until the evening when we go back to our homes feeling happy after spending the day together.
On the 25th of December we light the fireplace and we grill lamb, pork, chicken with lot of vegetables! We also cook chestnuts on the charcoal and we drink a lot of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. As a dessert we eat Panettone, Pandoro, patisserie dessert, Torrone and in the end we drink Grappa.
For my Christmas lunch we eat a lot of seafood as I come from Sicily, the land of best fish.
We start to prepare our Christmas lunch on the 23rd of December and as is tradition, we eat swordfish prepared with cherry tomatoes. Our Christmas lunch is usually a very long party in which we drink and have fun altogether.
On the 24th after midnight I meet all my friends and we have fun all together drinking a few glasses of wine and exchanging our Christmas presents.
In the morning, we go to church as is tradition, and then with all the parents we meet at the restaurant to dine together.
This Christmas I’m going to a carol service at Ely cathedral in England and spending time at home on our family farm. Then on New Year’s Eve we have a dinner party where we cook something new and wear something new, it’s our tradition!