Christmas day, it's a great festivity in the most part of the world. In Italy, is an important moment of the year because is the occasion, more than the others, to reunite all the family around a table.The Italian Christmas lunch is a great challenge for the stomachs of all the participants. Usually, takes place at the grandma's house and it lasts for hours. Many special dishes are prepared, following special traditions of the family or traditional recipes, always revisited by the knowledgeable hands of mothers and grandmothers. Through those recipes, it's an occasion to revive stories and memories about the family traditions. In some families happens that the last part of the lunch is the moment to exchange and open the Christmas presents that every member have received.In Italy there are some dishes that are common in every region or city on Christmas time, but if you have the opportunity to share more than one Christmas lunch with an Italian family you will realize how many different typical dishes it is possible to find in every region, in every city and in every town. If we try to summarize what are the different dishes for this occasion the result can be like this:
Starters - Usually, especially in northern and central Italy, we start with a series of big trays with different cured meats like prosciutto, salami , coppa (air cured pork meat) and many others depending on the region. Also, as a starter, there are a lot of different crostini (toasted pieces of bread) with livers or garnished with different fresh ingredients. In Apulia, they also start with panzerotti (a small version of the calzone also called closed pizza), either fried or stuffed with different toppings.
First Course - On most of the tables the first course is a broth of chicken or capon, with different type of pasta, like the tortellini in Emilia Romagna. Another traditional first course are soups with different kind of vegetables. In Campania, instead, they love as a first course the pasta with clams.
Second Course - It's not finished yet, here they come the "big deals". Generally on the Christmas table you'll find different kind of roasts, from lamb to capon, with baked potatoes. In Emilia Romagna, in Friuli Venezia Giulia and in Lombardy another special dish is the cotechino or zampone (leg of pork stuffed with sausages) with lentils. In Sardinia you can find the delicious porceddu al mirto (piglet soaked with a typical myrtle liquor).
Dessert - It's an hard choice to summarize the different Italian desserts of Christmas. Apart from the Panettone and Pandoro, that are the most common dessert on the Christmas day, we have the Cannoli in Sicily, le Ferratelle (like a multi layer waffle filled with different creams or jams) in Abruzzo or the Pangiallo (a mix of dried fruits and honey covered with egg batter) in Lazio.
The list could be longer and with a lot of surprises but for the moment we will stop here. Maybe the next year we will add some more special dishes to this overview. Have a good Christmas and enjoy your vacation!
Best wishes from Trips2Italy!