Christmas Feasting in Val di Lima

Boxing Day, which in the UK is (was?) the traditional day in which lords and masters presented their servants with a christmas box of goodies to thank them for their loyalty, is, in Italy, called il giorno di Santo Stefano to commemorate the first Christian martyr who died by being stoned to death.

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(Saint Stephen by Giotto)

Some irreligious wags might say that this was an appropriate mode of martyrdom as they wake up on December 26th with hangovers as a result of another variety of stoning the previous day.

We had a very Merry Christmas lunch but definitely avoided getting too stoned!

After the traditional antipasto which included salmon, artichokes, gherkins and olives:

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our first course consisted of pasta al forno deliciously cooked by Sandra our kitchen supremo.

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Quails followed. These after some searching we found in that large superstore near Gallicano.

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(We used a wok to do our quails).

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(Beware of cunning cats!)

Being just us two (plus our pets) we felt that that we could not face a capon or guinea fowl.  (Incidentally, it should be mentioned that turkey is not standard fare for Christmas here and is, indeed, considered, a rather cheap meat. We fortunately avoided those days of curried turkey, turkey sandwiches, even turkey soup which seem to follow for ages on the plates of those living in the UK after Christmas. The ideal bird would, of course have been the goose immortalised in Charles Dickens’ Christmas carol:.

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There never was such a goose. Bob said he didn’t believe there ever was such a goose cooked. Its tenderness and flavour, size and cheapness, were the themes of universal admiration. Eked out by apple-sauce and mashed potatoes, it was a sufficient dinner for the whole family…)

For our sweet we eschewed the Christmas pudding and opted for panettone and tiramisu.

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For Boxing Day we were invited by a friend to a village (which is directly opposite ours so that if the phone or internet should ever fail we could communicate to each other by smoke signals). It wasn’t just us who were invited but a veritable panoply of guests who all contributed some culinary delights to the overflowing table.

The original plan was to eat inside the house to avoid the outside winter cold. As it happened we ate outside to avoid the inner winter cold, so absolutely balmy was the day with temperatures in excess of twenty degrees and with warm beams sunning our necks it almost seemed springtime! (Not so good, incidentally, if you’re after some good pistes around here).

We all fitted on the balcony and a truly convivial giorno di santo Stefano was enjoyed by all.

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Today the fine weather continues and I think the best plan is now to opt for a leisurely walk to work some of the festive feasting out of our system.

(More guests of the four-pawed variety yesterday)

But, truly I don’t think we overdid things this year. The glorious sunshine certainly did, however!

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