By Tracey Tazzioli at Ama La Vita cookery school
Christmas in Italy is a magical experience, where families come together and celebrate with traditional food and family favourites.
Tracey Tazzioli spent 27 years in Italy, learning about the country’s culture, and its cuisine. There she met her husband Marco, and lived in Modena in beautiful Emiglia Romagna, renowned as one of Italy’s biggest food hubs.
There she set about learning family recipes and working alongside some of the country’s well-known chefs. But it was the traditional recipes, made with love by the older ladies and passed on only by word of mouth through families that really caught her imagination.
Now back in Wirral, she’s opened up her own cookery school, Ama La Vita, in Hoylake to share some of those wonderful recipes with you.
Here she shares her tips for a perfect Italian Christmas
- The Italian festive season starts on December 8 with the immaculate conception and continues until the Epiphany January 6 – you can imagine that food is a big part of all of this. Christmas Eve is one of the biggest celebrated evenings in Italy.
- Forget father Christmas – although nowadays many children receive presents from Father Christmas too – but the Italian is that La Befana, the old lady, brings the gifts and coal on Epiphany Eve. Legend has it that the three wise men came to her house and invited her to join the search for baby Jesus, but she was far too busy with housework She declined but later changed her mind. To this day is still searching, leaving presents for the good children she comes across and coal for the naughty ones.
- Christmas Eve is a huge night for family celebrations. The meal known as the feast of seven fishes is all seafood based and families can be sitting around a table chatting, eating, drinking and exchanging gifts for hours
- Christmas day is yet another big feast with roast meats and boiled meats with delicious sauces, and not to forget the traditional tortellini in a broth that each Italian household has its own traditional way of filling them.
- The Christmas day meal is followed by cakes puddings and other Italian desserts with nuts, which were historically a symbol of fertility for the coming year. I make my own special walnut cake, which is more than 100 years old, and filled with walnuts. When you cut it, a delicious honey, made by the combination of the nuts and sugar, runs out. I taught students how to make it on one of my courses, and they’d never tried anything quite like it.
As well as the cookery school Tracey offers private dining and pop-ups for everything from intimate dinner parties to larger scale events and corporate gatherings.
For more details about Ama La Vita please go to www.amalavita.co.uk or her Facebook page @traceyamalavita or www.instagram.com/traceytazzioliama/.