Christmas Lunch

At my last lesson this year with my business English class I asked my students what they would be eating for Christmas day lunch. The first course for most would be invariably tortellini in broth, although some favoured lasagne. The second, main, course would consist of various types of meat including lamb and roast beef, but never turkey which in Italy is considered a rather cheap meat fit only for fast food outlets. One student said his family always had fish for Christmas lunch which I and the rest of us thought rather strange since, traditionally here, it’s the meal on Christmas Eve that is taken “lean”, that is with fish replacing meat. Another student, who is a vegetarian mum, said she always prepared her own meal for Christmas since the rest of her family were meat-eaters.  I asked her if she found difficulty in being a vegetarian in a country which is seemingly predominantly geared for non-vegetarians. No, she replied, saying that there were so many purely vegetarian dishes in Italy. I thought about this and realised she was right. Polenta with mushrooms and many different types of pizza came to mind. One doesn’t always have to rely on nut roast here!

Most of my students said they would have their Christmas lunch either at home or with their respective in-laws. Two, however, would have their meal at a restaurant since around twenty family members would be involved. This was not always the case but Granma, who would have supervised such a meal, sadly was no longer with them and so they decided that a restaurant location would be the best catering alternative.

The trend, however, due to the continuing “austerità” is now to increasingly have Christmas lunches at home. Indeed, the most popular presents in Italy for this festive season have been food mixers, automatic pasta makers and bread machines! Another trend is that of going to “zero kilometre” markets to source one’s food. “Zero kilometre” means, of course, that the food is local and isn’t transported hundreds of miles on polluting trucks or flown on even more polluting freight planes from distant locations. No strawberries grow locally at this time of year so why get them from Australia? The true pleasure is to wait until fruits come into season here!

Coming to our own Christmas lunch – we had a wonderful lunch this year – it’s our ninth here! But the photographs I’ve dug out show that even back at our first Christmas in Longoio, December 2005 we had a crackingly decent nosh . A picture is worth a thousand words so here they are!

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3 thoughts on “Christmas Lunch

  1. Looking back at this our first Chrismas lunch here and indeed the first one that I cooked solo I see not bad it was the traditional faraona the antipasti were rather a mixture of traditional crostini and vol au vents! I had great fun cooking all this as I have done every year since I do enjoy cooking though as I get older I notice that I need more time in the preparation ie I could cobble the whole meal in one day not any more a lot of the items I bought for this year in the Autumn at good prices not too much was left at the last minute and anyways we do not want to stuff ourselves just on one day of the year nor on any day of the year it is just wasteful but I have noticed it does take longer so maybe 2 days are now needed for keeping cool as a cucumber and calm cool and collected in order to prepare a semi vegetarian feast which will last us now for a few days!

  2. My favourite bird in Italy, Faraona. Lucky you. Sounds altogether like a thoroughly good lunch. Did you have some nice wine to go with it?

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