Spring and Easter are upon us – a time when herbs and flowers start to bloom again and,
in the fields, appears wild garlic, one of my favourites!
In Italy, Easter is a holiday of great important, second only to Christmas. It provides an
excuse for another feast of festive proportions. Steeped in tradition, lamb and eggs,
symbolising life and re-birth respectively, are central to the celebration.
All across Italy, the occasion is marked with elaborate events, from festivals, parades and
concerts to religious rites and processions.
While you won’t find the Easter Bunny in Italy, eggs still form an important part of the
celebrations. Thick chocolate eggs that encase a surprise gift are children’s most prized
Easter tradition! These elaborate eggs are intricately decorated with embroidered sugar that, when cracked open, reveal a much-anticipated surprise inside. They can be bought with a gift already encased, or commissioned from a local Patisserie with a bespoke surprise.
I recall waiting excitedly each year for my parents to present me with my egg, which I would furiously shake and roll until my curiosity (and appetite) would inevitably triumph and I’d
crack it open! There was always lots of chocolate left over which my grandmother and I
would use to make a delicious chocolate fondant!
A particular favourite Easter classic of mine is the Colomba di Pasqua – a quintessentially
dove-shaped Italian cake, topped with sweet almonds and mouthwatering pearl sugar.
Dating back to the 1930s, its painstaking creation matches that of the renowned Italian
panettone - a process immediately forgotten however, when one tastes its inimitable sweet
flavour following Easter lunch (or indeed, the leftovers enjoyed the next day as the perfect
complement to a cappuccino at breakfast!)
The 6th of April marks World Carbonara Day - one of my favourite recipes, loved throughout
the national territory and imitated (not always very well) across the world! It is a remarkably
simple recipe - and even more rewarding when executed properly. There should be no
cream in carbonara!
Some claim the dish originated from the lumberjacks who traveled to the Apennine
mountains, between Lazio and Abruzzo. After spending days extracting coal from wood, they
would use it to prepare a nutritious plate of pasta al fresco, using the only three simple
ingredients they had available - eggs, bacon and pecorino. Others claim that following the
Second World War Americans soldiers had an abundance of bacon and eggs that they
passed to the ladies in the villages, from which the Carbonara was born.
Regardless, this is one of the most iconic Italian dishes and here you will find the original
recipe and a video to learn how to cook it the real Italian way!