On Christmas Eve, the 24th of December, in most Italian homes a large dinner is prepared in the evening, consisting exclusively of fish dishes. And excellent white wine. Have you ever wondered why just fish? The answer is religious. In fact Catholicism forbids consuming of meat on the last day of Advent as a form of respect. Moreover, although this is no longer the case today, fish was once the food of the poor while meat was the privilege of the few.
In some families, typical Christmas carols are sung at midnight. Some other families go to church for the traditional Christmas Mass and then stay nearby or gather in the main square to exchange greetings.
On the 25th of December a very important lunch is prepared with recipes mainly meat-based, desserts and dried fruit. And of course red wine. The table is specially decorated and the main colours used are red and white. But the two sweets that must be on every Christmas table are Panettone and Pandoro.
A Christmas dessert, the Panettone
Panettone comes from Milan, although its origins are unknown and it is not certain who invented this typical dessert. According to one of the most popular legends, the cook in the service of Ludovico il Moro in Milan was preparing a sumptuous Christmas dinner for the court guests. But the dessert was accidentally left in the oven and burned. Toni, a young kitchen boy, came up with a solution: he made a dessert from what was left in the larder – some spoons of flour, butter, eggs, lemon peel and sultanas -and brought it to the table. Everyone was delighted with the dessert and asked the name of it. It’s “pan del Toni” (Toni’s bread) was the anwer. From here “il Panettone”. Today Panettone is made with leavened dough of flour, butter, eggs, water, candid fruit of orange and lemon, sultanas.
The Pandoro of Verona among Christmas traditions
The typical Christmas dessert of Verona is the Pandoro. It’s name derives from the Venitian dialect “pan de oro” (the golden bread). It’s a dessert with a soft texture, golden colour due to the presence of eggs and a scent of vanilla. Sometimes covered with cream and pistachio nuts. The main ingredients are flour, sugar, eggs, butter. It’s not filled. Nowadays, specilally in veronese pastry shops it seems popular to serve slices of pandoro acompanied by a delicious cream and drops of chocolate.
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