Whether it is for Christmas Eve dinner or Christmas lunch, Italians have a huge variety of dishes typically eaten at this time of the year
For Christmas, each Italian family has its own traditions and typical menu, which is always the same year after year. All of this is greatly influenced by the area where the family lives. For example, in Central and Southern Italy, most celebrate with the Christmas Eve dinner, while in the North, the celebration takes place during the Christmas lunch. Also, the ‘when’ people celebrate generally determines ‘what’ they eat. On the evening of the 24th, the dinner is usually fish-based, while for the lunch all sorts of meat make their appearance on the tables. However, dried fruit and panettone are ever-present.
In Central and Southern Italy, most celebrate with the Christmas Eve dinner, while in the North, the celebration takes place during the Christmas lunch
Starting our scrumptious journey from the north, one of the Christmas specialties from Valle d’Aosta is ‘carbonade’, beef cooked in red wine. But there are also the croutons with honey served with goat or sheep cold cuts. In Piedmont, ‘agnolotti’ and mixed boiled meats are a must. While, in Liguria, we find a dish of vegetables and fish called ‘cappon magro’. In Lombardy, one of the most traditional dishes is eel en papillote. And, in Veneto, people eat polenta with cod and boiled beef with sauces.
Emilia Romagna is the homeland of meat-based cuisine, thus here we find ‘tortellini’ and ‘passatelli’ in broth. In the Marche region, instead, the broth is used to serve ‘cappelletti’, which, in Umbria are sometimes stuffed with capon and pigeon. Tuscans enjoy roast guinea fowl or duck, or stuffed capon. They also make ‘bardiccio’, a pork sausage spiced with fennel. While cod with mixed fried vegetables is also the protagonist of the tables on Christmas Eve in Lazio. In Rome, fish soup or pasta and broccoli in fish broth are popular. In Abruzzo, they prefer roasted lamb and boiled beef. And in the area of Teramo, there are the ‘caggionetti’, sweet fried ravioli stuffed with almonds and mashed chestnuts.
Rolling south to Campania, we find spaghetti with clams, stuffed capon, and ‘struffoli’. In Basilicata, they love escarole, savoy cabbage, and cardoon in turkey broth followed by boiled cod and bread with almonds. While Calabrian go crazy for cold cuts – bacon, ‘capocollo’, ‘soppressata’, sausages, etc. – but also spaghetti with bread crumbs and anchovies as well as kid or stockfish with sauteed Calabrian broccoli.