Thursday, December 27, 2012

My first Italian Christmas

This is the first time I was actually in Italy for Christmas and it's our first Christmas together after getting married. So all in all a pretty exciting time for us both. To continue the "first" theme our friend Barbara invited us to her home for Christmas dinner; her first time hosting Christmas since moving here four years ago.

I probably don't need to remind anyone what Christmas is like at Mom and Dad's, but for my friends who have never had the privilege of an invitation I'll summarize. There is always tons of food, and once that's been cleared away the table is refilled with desserts and sweets. Getting the table ready  for dinner involves a certain amount of logistics. Kind of like Tetris with food. Careful placement of each platter and bowl is necessary so that everything fits with space for people to actually eat as well. It may in fact take longer than actually eating the meal. Something is almost always forgotten in the kitchen or the breezeway or the garage. We use every available space for storage, depending on the ambient temperature outside and the allowable.temperature for the food to be stored. Dinner is a noisy affair (there are lots of kids of various ages, but honestly, even as they grow up the conversation remains fairly loud) and no one sits still. After dinner activities include groaning, napping, some more groaning and discussions about which physical activity will best relieve the groaning this year followed by an enthusiastic or reluctant participation in said activity. Then there are games and supper from leftovers. All in all a great day.

This Christmas was quieter and less frenetic. It was bilingual and since there was only one mother tongue Italian speaker all the conversation was slower. After dinner we watched an Italian film and talked about going for a walk but never actually did it. Instead of a table filled with all the food at one time we served each dish at its own time. We started with saffron risotto and the second dish was a beautiful pork roast and salsiccia with potatoes and carrots and fennel bulb side dishes and some smoked salmon, finishing with the traditional pannetone (Italian Christmas cake) and a chocolate polenta cake with candied oranges. It took almost eight hours to get from the aperitivo to the dolce (dessert) and every moment was a joy. Just like at Mom and Dad's. I'm so lucky to have wonderful friends and a wonderful man to celebrate life with.

We arrived on our bikes carrying
most of our kitchen on our backs
and in Leif's saddle bags.
So pretty much the usual,
just on bicycles instead of a car.
I was so busy enjoying myself that I forgot to take very many pictures. Merry Christmas to you all. I love you and miss you but don't worry. I've found friends and family here that make missing you less difficult.
Leif and Diane, the
from Canada.

Our beautiful and gracious hostess Barbara.
Fast becoming my best friend.
Barbara's neighbor Giuseppe.
A wonderful man from
Sicily who knows almost
everything about Florence.

Barbara's beautiful tree and apartment.
Me making saffron risotto.

The candied oranges. I forgot to
get a picture of the cake.