CHRISTMAS WITH PANETTONE
The panettone di Milano
from Lombardy specialty
has become a national Christmas cake.
The Italian traditional culture has always given particular attention to the festive rituals, which marked the passing of the months and the seasons, crossing the natural calendar with the liturgical one. And food has always been the first way to signal the diversity of certain days and their desserts represent a journey into the gastronomic tradition, bringing back memories of forgotten moments and magical places.
The Italian traditional confectionery has two souls: the aristocratic, rich and precious products transformed by elaborate techniques; and the peasant one, with desserts that exploit the temporary availability of the products of the land, made with simple processing techniques.
Without tracing a lines between sweets from the North, Central and South of Italy, it can be identified for the regions that are part of it, some common denominators linked to the ingredients: in the desserts of the North of Italy the use of milk, cream and butter, common ingredients in these regions; rice, grown in Piedmont, Emilia Romagna and Veneto;
hazelnuts, chestnuts, berries, products from the wooded and mountainous areas. Continuing south, with the change of climate and vegetation, the desserts are filled with ricotta and figs and, as a result of contacts with the Arabs, are enriched with cedar and pistachios.
Our country has always been a place of exchanges and contaminations: the table is the space where they are most often performed … and the desserts and their ingredients tell it well.
But it can not be denied that the most famous Christmas dessert is the Milanese panettone. His story is diluted in legend, but we like to remember one of them, the most romantic, which attributes the invention to a young man in love with the fifteenth century who, to ingratiate himself with his beloved father, baker, becomes a pastry chef and creates a bread rich in butter, eggs, sugar, candied fruit. The “pan del Tonì”, named after the baker, will become “Panettone” over time.