I recently received an email from an Italian company requesting an appointment to meet, but they requested a date after the January 6 celebration of the Epiphany, or what is popularly called Little Christmas. As you know, this is the commemoration of God making himself known through the birth of the Baby Jesus. In Italy, the Epiphany celebrates the visit of the Three Kings or the Gifts of the Magi, bringing gold, frankincense and myrrh to the manger. Not in the U.S. but in Italy, it is a national holiday.
Upon discussing this with my wife. We decided to invite a few friends to our home and recognize the meaning of this holiday with a dinner party. We wanted to present a dinner that was indicative of “Little Christmas” but could not find a specific menu anywhere. What we did find said Italian food “fit for a king” and prompted my wife, who as you know, is a most accomplished cook and entertainer, to create a special night of food, Italian specialties and merriment.
As our guests were seated at our dining room table, we gave them a brief explanation of the holiday and its traditions. They then were presented with a gift, as was the case of the Three Kings or Wise Men bearing gifts. This now set the tone for the dinner. My wife decided would be specialties from the Piemonte region, which we recently visited. First course was one fashioned with products from Coluccio’s Market in Brooklyn, consisting of cheeses, olives, sopressata and artichokes. Since the meal was Piemontese, the wines of course were of the native Nebbiolo grape, Barolo and Barbaresco.
While in the amazing town of Alba, my wife Marion purchased three different selections of the Piemonte special Tajarin pasta. One type was made with Barolo wine, the next with Porcini mushrooms and the third with Truffles. These three pastas comprised the pasta course. The main course was Torino-fashioned Porchetta, which we purchased at our butcher Vincent’s Meat Market in The Bronx. The desserts were equally outstanding and indicative of the region and was highlighted by a hazelnut cream cake from Palazzone 1960 pastry shop in Wayne, New Jersey. The special breads on our table came from Addeo and Madonia bakeries in The Bronx.
This holiday and celebration will now become a tradition in our home because of its significance of sharing, gifting and warmth of family and friendship. I can think of nothing better to help close this most important and religious of all seasons with passing this tradition on to your children and grandchildren, which is really the Italian way. We all celebrate our heritage in slightly different ways depending on where your family is from in Italy, but we all celebrate through food.