Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Easter/Pasqua traditions in Italy

Easter growing up as a kid was always an exciting time to get up in the morning and hunt down all the eggs the “easter bunny” hid for you, but now as an adult I'm always wondering what we're eating and drinking. Gosh how times change, but these are very important decisions in life, right? Until I have little ones of my own one day this will continue to be the main focus. Today I wanted to focus on Easter, Pasqua in Italian, as this is one of the biggest holidays celebrated in Italy. Italians celebrate throughout the Easter weekend and also Monday, which is a holiday known as la Pasquetta, where many folks from the town gather to enjoy each others company, play games, listen to concerts, etc.. Easter is celebrated differently throughout every region and city, but most have processions through town where statues are carried or displayed in the city center.

Colomba Italian Easter bread
Colomba Easter bread

Food traditions vary throughout the country, but there are some food staples that can be found in every region. Colomba Pasquale is a dove shaped bread that contains candied fruit and is covered in almonds and sugar. One of the most common treats that are shared are hollow chocolate eggs with surprises contained inside. For the main course lamb is the most preferred. Growing up in an Italian household we always had a couple Italian specialties that my mom and grandmothers made. One was pastiera, which is a cake made mostly of ricotta and wheat. The other food my mom made that I loved to just sit there in pop in my mouth were struffoli. These are little balls of dough that are fried covered in honey and my mom always put little confetti balls on top. These are more typical of the Naples (Napoli) region, where my dad's side of the family is from.

Italian Struffoli
Struffoli
Italian chocolate easter eggs
Italian Chocolate Easter Eggs

Wine pairings with your Easter meal
Many Italians love to celebrate drinking the local wines of their region, but being from the United States and not having the true pride in being from a particular homeland, unless you hold true to the roots of your ancestors, we can select from a wide variety throughout the country. If you're celebrating Easter the true Italian way with lamb, due to the richness you will want something that can complement the meal. You could more high end like a Barolo or Barbaresco, but if you'd rather spend less and still enjoy a quality wine go for something different like a Sagrantino, Taurasi or Gattinara. 

Don't go to your usual wines. Think outside the box. It's a holiday so try something different. I'm sure you're drinking more than one bottle so if you don't like it others probably will so it won't go to waste. I don't think you'll be let down. Let me know the traditions in your family and what you enjoy. Buona Pasqua! Happy Easter!