Life in Italy (previous edition)
Christmas in Italy, just like in the USA, has its special foods. I suppose
I could run down the whole list, but I will save that for another time.
This time I'll just tell you about the two traditional Christmas cakes -
pandoro and panettone.
You may have heard of these. I know in some
parts of the country you can find them. Here n Italy they are everywhere
at Christmas time. Any event has a tray of pandoro, panettone or both set
out. They are also given as gifts, so we usually end up with a few at
home. And if we did not get enough, after Christmas they go on sale in all
the supermarkets. Often there will be stack and stacks of the cakes,
marked way down in price (60, 70 80% off!). Since they are usually dated
to last for months, you can even buy them and save them for later if you
are no longer in the mood for them (Christmas cake in July anyone?).
Our preferred cake is Pandoro. The name means "bread of gold" and it
is (if you look top down) in the shape of a star (for the star of the
wiremen). It is a tall, light, coarse, bready, yellow in color. it is only
mildly sweet, but comes with a package of powdered sugar for sprinkling on
top of the cake (or on top of each slice - depending how sweet you like
Panettone, is a fairly tall cake (although not at tall as the
pandoro). It round and nicely rounded on top. In cities they have big
concrete pieces (bout 2 feet tall) in the same shape which are used to
control traffic (such as keeping cars off sidewalks, etc.). Oddly enough,
the concrete pieces share the name "panettone" (from the shape and not the
consistency of the cake one hopes). Panettone is also bready and coarse,
but heavier and somewhat sweeter than pandoro. It has, depending the type,
either raisins or raisins and dried candied fruit in it. It too is sold
with powdered sugar for sprinkling, but does not need it really. We do not
like candied fruit, but the ones with raisins only are ok. They are best
lightly toasted and buttered.