Easter arrives early this year and we are in full lockdown in Rome again. Is it 2020? Big Ben, Parliament…am I playing a part in the film ‘European Vacation’? I want to exit this roundabout and I know that I’m not alone.
We will be spending Easter in Rome again, the three of us (Francesco, Chloe and me) rather than visiting our families. Lockdown will do that to you. The menu will have a Neapolitan theme save the home made Easter lunch for Chloe, our Wheaton Terrier because after all, she’s celebrating with us too.
Antipasti include coratella, pecorino cheese and eggs with slices of casatiello (a savory Easter bread) to whet our appetites. The first course is homemade tagliatelle with tomato sauce. The main is roast lamb with potatoes with a bottle of Aglianico. Dessert is pastiera Napoletana and chocolate eggs.
But what is a traditional Italian Easter lunch? It differs from region to region. After 40 days of fasting for Lent, the festivity kicks off with antipasti that include salami peppered with chunks of lard, cheese and hard boiled eggs. Our family celebration in Naples continues with many dishes. The star of the day is lamb from central-northern Italy and kid for much of the south, often served with roast potatoes. My favorite foods of the day are the savory and sweet Easter breads.
My Italian-American family enjoyed capretto (kid) as the entree which I opted out of eating. The menu was/is a mishmash of southern Italian dishes adapted to use available ingredients from the time my grandparents immigrated to Boston. Not only did recipes change due to lack of/or abundance of ingredients, but they changed to suit our extended families’ tastes. You see, my maternal grandparents had 5 children and 15 grandchildren. You might guess that not all of us loved goat or lamb, or anything that resembled one of the two, so ham found its place on the table.
Dessert changed too from pastiera Napoletana (an open face tart made with wheat berry, candied fruit and ricotta) to torta di ricotta (ricotta pie with candied orange and chocolate shavings – see above). Ma, my maternal grandmother, kept to tradition when it suited and adapted when it didn’t hence the Aliberti tradition of ricotta pie for Easter. I love knowing that what was most important about our ‘traditional’ celebrations was sitting down around a table together. Of course the food was important, but it was more than that. It was the entire shared experience, it is the spirit of Casa Mia Tours and our online lessons. It is what I hope to share with you. #foodislove
So I invite you to come and cook with me on April 1 when I’ll be making Pastiera Napoletana for Easter. It’s more than a cooking lesson, it’s a feeling.