Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Traditional Italian Holiday Dinner

This is a blog about my memories of our Traditional Italian Holiday Dinners. 

We would have at least twenty to twenty five family members come for dinner.  As the host, I would start planning and preparing at least one week ahead of time, grocery shopping and organizing and all pre-preparation.

The family would start arriving at approximately 2:00pm bringing with them a dish or a pastry.  They would filter their way into the grand family room and play a little pool in the Billiard Room.  When everyone finally arrived, we would all take our places at the dining room table which was used primarily for holiday dinners and the overage, usually the children, would be seated at the Italian kitchen table.  We, then, bow our heads and give thanks to Our Lord Jesus Christ, for all of the blessings he has bestowed upon us and our family throughout the year.

The dining room table was set with the finest of china and tableware and crystal.  There would be wine and apple cidar and soda and water with lemon to wet the pallet, and allow the dining to begin.

The first course to be served would be either fresh fruit with sherbert, or melon with prosciutto.  This would warn the taste buds that an eating party was about to take place and to prepare for the fiesta. 

The next course would definitely be the antipasto or the Italian appetizer.  This was usually two large oval platters at each end of the dining room table,  with shredded Romain lettuuce, radicchio, pepperoncini, and black olives tastefully decorated with Salami, Cappoccoli, Supprasada, Pepperoni, and Italian Ham and Provolone Cheese and Pecorino Romano Cheese.  There was extra virgin olive oil, vinegars, and salt and pepper to season as you wished.  A bread basket on the table was filled with fresh Italian bread.  This course gave everone a chance to talk and get the stomach in a digestive mode.

Next came the Italian Chicken Soup with little meatballs and orzo pasta.  All the guests, especially the children, loved this soup and looked forward to the holidays to experience its delicious flavor. There was always a dish of fresh grated Pecorino Romano Cheese to sprinkle on the soup. Everyone lingered over their soup to savor the flavor and deliciousness and pass a little time.  Once the soup was removed from the table, dining became a serious matter.

Following the soup was usually a platter of lasagna, accompanied by an  oval platter of meats that contributed to the deliciousness of the tomatoe sauce.  Short Ribs, Italian Sausage, Chicken, and meatballs made from veal, pork, and beef.  No Italian table would ever be complete unless there was some sort of pasta and meat, so we usually had lasagna to dress up the holiday table, and/or stuffed shells.

Okay then, now that everyone is so filled to the brim, it is time to serve the gigantic Italian Turkey of approximately 26 lbs, stuffed with Italian Sausage Stuffing.  Everyone takes one look at the guest of honor, the turkey, and if they have not passed out yet, are willing to give the bird a try.  The turkey is usually accompanied by Benedictine Brandied Yams, Brussels Sprouts or a green vegetable, and a regular salad of torn Roman, Radichio, tomatoes, cucumbers, and celery, with the accoutraments of olive oil and vinegar and salt and pepper. There is turkey gravy made from the drippings of the turkey, and plenty of cranberry sauce in every consistancy such as jellied, berried, and chutney.

At this point, everyone has to roll away from the table and exercise their limbs and take a breath of fresh air, to maintain any sense of normalcy.  This is a necessary activity as they must make room for one more course, the dessert and coffee, and the candy and brandy.

Well now, there you have it.  This is the typical Traditional Italian Holiday Dinner.

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