Christmas lunch according to tradition, from tortellini to Roman stracciatella – Food –


Christmas lunch is a real ritual, very often family traditions are repeated year after year according to local traditional specialties and rarely deviate. It is perhaps the only occasion when the menu is more or less the same as when the person cooking and serving it was a child. A kitchen of memories and traditiona pleasant meal to be prepared in peace, in the previous days, devoting time, which in itself is a gift and love. Each region has its typical dishes and each family has its ownbut the main ones are not talked about, even though the expansion of vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free diets has multiplied the dishes prepared. First courses and desserts are a traditional must, Appetizers and second courses, which traditionally include meat on Christmas Day (beef, veal, pork, chicken, as well as elaborate and rich dishes), are followed by abstinence on Christmas Day in which only fish is eaten. Not everything is always done at home, although it happens in many families and you very often order out, but you always strictly follow the traditional dishes.
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A little’ there is broth everywhere: in Genoa Christmas (resembling ziti, 20 cm long and slightly oval in shape) are cooked in a capon broth in which balls of sausage are placed, which is considered auspicious because they symbolize coins. Alternatively pansot (ravioli filled with wild herbs) with walnut saucefor the second course, lean capon with goat and green sauce. In Bologna, he ends up in capon broth on Christmas Day cappelletti followed by cooked meat (beef, veal, chicken, zampone or cotechino) in green sauce and Friggion a typical side dish of onions macerated in sugar and then stewed in tomatoes). In Turin, the capon is stuffed and used like the cappelletti in the broth agnolotti with meat filling what tradition dictates that they be served with baked sauce, sage butter and parmesan. Capon also reigns over the Christmas lunch menu in Milan srred meat avioli in broth and for the second course baked, boiled, s stuffed chestnuts or truffle slices and topped with mustard, better when made with pears and pumpkin. In Venice we start with panettone sandwich (a tasty specialty now in vogue all over Italy) and move on bigoli (spaghetti) with duck ragout or risotto Trevigiana, in Trieste gnocchi with Montasio, a typical cheese from Friuli. In Florence tortellini in broth However, prepared according to tradition with stuffed neck or chicken meat in jelly, a rather laborious recipe that is often preceded by liver crostini as an appetizer, liver (chicken) on croutons also in Perugia, where the first course is dry with agnolotti with sauce or pappardelle with wild boar or spaghetti alla nursina (with oil, anchovies, parsley and truffle chips). In Naples, the ultimate tradition is the (very long) Christmas lunch marriage soupwhere maritata refers to various elements with seasonal vegetables including cabbage, small escarole and borage, cooked and then transferred to the meat stock and according to the house there are also those who add a few pieces of chicken and sausage, but the second does not miss the first course baked pasta filled with mozzarella, ragu, peas, eggs and tomato sauce. In Molise, macaroni with cauliflower, but also polenta with tripe and offal, strascinati with ragout in Basilicata, in Bari at Christmas they eat white meat, chicken or turkey broth. In Sardiniafor ricotta ravioli or goat’s cheese and pork as a second course, a must-have on the table in Palermo strained pastabaked pasta with ragout, eggs, eggplant and lots of cheese.
Is it in Rome? We asked Giancarlo Praiola the restaurant owner Il Bocconcino, an address in the shadow of the Colosseumwhich on accurate and high-quality restoration recipes of the true Roman tradition (even in an area, Celio, with a very high density of tourists) he established his kitchen. “For Christmas lunch, my memories were confirmed by reading historical cookbooks such as those of Livio Jannattoni, that after a few appetizers of smoked meats and some fried foods, Roman stracciatella which I believe also had a conciliatory and auspicious function (at least according to my grandfather). They followed them Roman-style cappelletti cooked in capon broth which was served as a second course accompanied by coarse salt and green sauce. So, apart from various side dishes, fried, sometimes lamb chops, especially for children if they are present, I would say that the sacred Trimurti, stracciatella, cappelletti in broth and boiled capon are constant in memories and literature. The Christmas Eve dinner is a separate affair because it is preceded by an entirely Roman event which is not in my recollection but which I discovered in my research, viz. “Cottio” probably from Latin quot, quotation. This involved the wholesale purchase of fish at the Mercati Generali and other markets. A festive and boisterous event in itself, attended by wealthy gentlemen, pardoners and bourgeois alike, who thronged the stalls on the 23rd and 24th to buy fish for the Friday dinner that followed a day of effective fasting and abstinence. There, too, it was customary to start with an often fried appetizer and then usoup, the most famous of which was sorghum and broccoli soup of course or mullet broth. A curious note was the widespread use of eel cooking at Christmas, in Rome the so-called “ciriole”, i.e. small eels caught in the Tiber. It should therefore be noted that the Roman kitchen used fish that had already disappeared from everyday use, such as the dogfish or, even more, the mullet, caught even in the Tiber and considered by the people to be the fish of the holidays.”
How to make Roman stracciatella? The dish is very simple. Crack the eggs with a fork and add the grated Parmesan cheese (50 grams per 4 eggs) followed by the nutmeg, lemon zest, salt and plenty of pepper as if making a sauce. Then pour this cream into the boiling meat broth (preferably with capon) and stir for a few minutes with a whisk. And voila.

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