Italians celebrate Easter in may ways throughout the different regions, but generally with chocolate eggs for the children containing toy surprises, roast lamb or goat, spring vegetables such as artichokes, and a colomba (dove) a cake made with the same dough as panettone but baked in the shape of a bird and topped with coarse pearl sugar and/or almonds.
As a special Easter chocolate treat, together with a variety of traditional Easter recipes we have a recipe for decadent Bacio brownies
, made with the famed chocolates from the Perugina brand.
Buona Pasqua a tutti!
Even in Italy, the land where the Slow Food movement originated, people are busier than ever these days. On a lazy Sunday you might have time to slow-cook your ragu' for hours, but on a weeknight, if you're just getting home from work, you're tired, and you don't have a lot of time or energy, you probably want something faster and simpler. Here are some dishes you can have on the table in less than 30 minutes, either start-to-finish, or by making them ahead of time and simply reheating!
The holidays in Italy seem endless, and each one has its special associated foods, which might differ from region to region. Part of the reason for so many holidays is the fact that every single day of the calendar year is the Feast Day of one or more Catholic saints. This doesn't mean that every day is a holiday in Italy, of course. March 17, for instance, the feast day of San Patrizio (better known in the English-speaking world as Saint Patrick), is not celebrated in Italy. (He is the patron saint of Ireland, after all.)
Food and the Feast Day of San Giuseppe
Today, though, March 19, the Feast Day of San Giuseppe (St. Joseph), is celebrated throughout Italy and in many Italian American communities. It's also Father's Day in Italy and it's traditionally celebrated with fried or baked pastries originating in Naples called zeppole (also known as bigne' or sfinge/sfingi/sfinci), They're usually filled with pastry cream or ricotta and dusted with sugar. Read more...
Fava Bean and Fennel Soup
One of the dishes traditionally served on the Feast Day of San Giuseppe, in Sicily, this velvety, flavorful puree incorporates the fava bean, considered a lucky charm as well as a token of St. Joseph. See the recipe for Fava Bean and Fennel Soup (Macco di fave e finocchietto).
March 8 is International Woman's Day, and is an occasion for considerable celebration in Italy.
Not familiar with L'8 Marzo? Like many other days set aside to celebrate the rights of workers, the International Woman's Day's origins are American: At the turn of the last century women were entering the workforce in record numbers in the United States, and began to agitate for better working conditions and pay, as well as the vote. In 1908 the Socialist women of the US held demonstrations for improved working conditions, better pay, and suffrage on February 28. On February 28 1909 several thousand women turned out in Manhattan, and during the same winter the women working in the sweatshops struck for better conditions and pay, with the support of the Woman's Trade Union, which provided bail money and food.
American women continued to observe February 28 as Woman's Day, while in 1910 the delegates of the Socialist International Meeting in Copenhagen voted unanimously to establish an International Women's Day, without setting a specific date.
So in 1911 the women of Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland demonstrated on March 19, and it is estimated that more than a million people participated. A week later, on March 25, in Manhattan the Triangle fire claimed the lives of more than 140 workers, mostly immigrant girls -- there was only one fire escape for the hundreds of people trapped in the burning floors -- and the newspaper accounts led to calls for reform, while tying the fire to the struggle for women's rights in popular imagery. (For more information, including heart-rending newspaper accounts, see the Triangle Fire pages
Yearly demonstrations continued, becoming associated with the peace movements that formed as a response to the gathering clouds of war in Europe; in particular, Russian women settled on February 28 as the day for their demonstrations. And continued to demonstrate during the war; despite opposition from other activists, on the last Sunday of February -- the 23rd -- 1917 they went on strike to protest conditions at home and the more than 2 million war dead. They called for "bread and peace," and four days later the Czar capitulated; one of the first things the provisional government did was grant women the right to vote. The date, February 23 on the Julian calendar then used in Russia, was March 8 in the Gregorian calendar used elsewhere, and that's why International Woman's Day is March 8.
In Italy it's an occasion for meetings, talks, and demonstrations, and men traditionally give women a sprig of mimosa, with its bright yellow blossoms, to mark the occasion. I'm off to buy Daughter Clelia and Wife Elisabetta theirs.
Again, happy March 8 to all who celebrate it!
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