Crimbo, Xmas, Noël – whatever other names you have for the holiday, we all know the name Christmas. Being our favorite holiday of the year for the family gatherings, festivities and traditions – the food is definitely at the top of our list of Christmas joys too.
Christmas food, to all who celebrate the holiday, is of course honored differently depending on where you are in the world. In Italy, Christmas food can even vary according to region. Following Italian Catholic tradition, Christmas Eve is comprised of a fish dish, with Rome having ‘il capitone’, a dish cooked with fried eels, as a well-known favorite.
The main Christmas meal is on Christmas day, and of course Italians have several courses to their meals with this particular holiday definitely being no exception.
If you will be spending Christmas in Italy, book our Local Food tour in Rome. Or if you would like to have an Italian Christmas at home, follow this foodie guide to your perfect festive meal the Traditional Italian Christmas Food.
Although the name is associated with a Russian origin, ‘insalata russa’ was once called ‘insalata genovese’ due to it frequently being served as an antipasto for the Lingurian aristocracy for gala dinners. Others claim that the Piedmont region of Italy created this salad for when Russian aristocracy visited.
Despite its mixed legendary origins, insalata russa is a common feature of any Italian Christmas table. It is mainly made of vegetables and mayonnaise, and can be served as a salad as well as an appetiser.
The mighty Antonio Carluccio gives us a simple recipe to follow for this particular treat.
For all you meat lovers out there, this next primo dish is ideal. It comes from the glorious foodie region of Emilia-Romagna and differs from the usual meaty ‘tortellini’ that many Italians talk about.
The name of the pasta originates from the word ‘cappelletto’ meaning small hats, due to the shape of the pasta.
It’s obviously more difficult to make compared to the appetiser, but the taste of this fresh stuffed meat filled pasta is sublime, so it’s worth all the hard and tedious work.
Here you can find a delicious Cappelletti recipe
Why not try something different to a typical Christmas turkey for your meal? Italians also cook fish on Christmas Day, not just Christmas Eve. The region of Calabria serve dry codfish and eel is still used as part of an Italian Christmas dinner in mainly Campania, Sicily and Puglia.
Now it seems more common to have meat at an Italian Christmas dinner, with many eating turkey and pork.
The northern Italian chef Giorgio Locatelli has a great recipe for an interesting eel, peas and tomato dish.
Of course, the dessert has to be the classic ‘panettone’. Christmas, even for us outside of Italy, is not Christmas without a panettone cake. Originating from Milan, it is a well-deserved classic at the Italian Christmas table. Boasting the sweetest, softest texture and the most divine dried fruits, panettone is a definite welcome addition to any Christmas meal.
Panettone usually has a cupola shape, extending from a cylindrical base, but there are other variations to the shape of the desert such as an octagon. It can also consist of a frustum with a star section shape, which is common of another well-loved Italian desert, the marvellous ‘pandoro‘.
Mario Batali gives us his trusty recipe for a glorious panettone.
‘Bombardino all’uovo’ is a particular Italian drink which is made using eggnog and rum. It is a drink that is popularly drunk in cold Italian climates, especially for those who are enjoying a ski holiday in the north of the country.
You can heat up the drink and even serve it with whipped cream. The name originates from the combination of heat and high alcohol content.
For us, undoubtedly one of the reasons we love Italy is the food. The importance, precision, simplicity are just some of the reasons we love to dine in the grand boot. With Christmas being a vital time in the Italian calendar to share food with loved ones, it is definitely a wonderful experience to celebrate the festive season in Italy.
We, of course, share our foodie interests with you lovely people with our Local Chef Experience Tours, and do so at Christmas too. So if you’re in the Italian capital, have a jolly, festive and delicious meal and cooking experience and see for yourself why we love the culinary delights of this country so much!