Merry Christmas to All

From my family in Bologna...

This Christmas is a little different. I didn’t get to go home and curl up next to a fire in my parents’ comfy living room, and I won’t get to see my brother, sister-in-law, and nieces, and I haven’t taken a neighborhood tour of Christmas lights, but the wonderful people in the above photo have made all of that worth it.

So far, Christmas in Bologna has been wonderful. Our apartment, though smaller than we expected, is cozy and warm (and has unlimited hot water!) We’ve gotten to see the city and have eaten delicious  food,  had good wine, and walked until we’re so exhausted we fall into bed at night. Bologna itself hasn’t disappointed either. Today was the first snow of the season (and just in time!) and my Dad and Austin and I walked around the whole city getting totally drenched and just not caring. The people at the little markets near the apartment are totally wonderful, and when we picked up our panettone today we met the sweet old lady who made it. Shopkeepers and street vendors alike have been giving us “auguri” and wishing us “Buone feste! Buon natale!” It’s wonderful.

Tonight, we made our traditional Christmas Eve candlelit feast. Typically, it involves my Mom cooking for most of the day and making fabulous food (and she didn’t disappoint), but we adapted it to Italy a bit too. Italians eat seven fishes for Christmas; we had only two. She also managed dinner rolls and honeyed carrots, and we spent the afternoon decorating Christmas cookies just like at home. Literally just like home – my Mom carried her recipes, candy thermometer, brown sugar, and condensed milk in her suitcase from home so we could make all the usual Christmas cookies and caramels. She even brought peanut butter for my sake – Buckeyes, though incredible, are not traditional Christmas foods in our house.

Our roasted fish.

Twice baked potatoes - topped with real fresh parmesan.

My Mom's rolls. Yum!

The honeyed carrots. I'll have to remind myself of this preparation, because I love carrots and just end up sauteeing them most of the time.

We also made mulled wine for during/after dinner. So warm and wonderful.

Our table, all complete with candles. (And crab meat and lemon butter.)

After lighting the candles and laying out artichokes on each plate, and with our oh-so-Bolognese salad topped with pears, chestnuts, and gorgonzola.

My plate.

The desserts.

Our homemade and freshly decorated Christmas cookies.

Buckeyes and chocolate covered strawberries. My parents and sister found the strawberries at the Mercato delle erbe today - I was really proud that they managed to buy them all by themselves. Sort of fitting too, since our apartment is called "The Berries." These berries are local and fresh and oh-so-good.

The panettone. We didn't end up eating it tonight - it'll be breakfast tomorrow.

A buche de noel we bought at Gamberi downtown today. For those of us who prefer French chocolate to Italian panettone (shh...don't tell anyone.)

Our little tree is all ready and decorated for the holidays. We made the ornaments one night with paper we bought at a little stationery shop and bought the tree from a florist in our neighborhood. It was billed as the "ultimo albero di natale" (the last Christmas tree), so even though it was bigger than we'd wanted we had to get it.

Now, our presents are wrapped, our bellies are full, our toes are warm (following our other Christmas Eve tradition of new pajamas, even though we accidentally got them a bit early since my families’ bags were lost by the airline), and we are just enjoying our time inside and crossing our fingers for more snow. So all that’s left is:

 

Merry Christmas from all of us, to all of you! Enjoy the holiday season, no matter where you are.

 


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