An Italian In West Sussex On Christmas
Christmas is finally here! The lights, the sparkly tinsel, the Christmas trees, the frost, the crisp but chilly days, the fire place, the mulled wine, all make this season extra special and magical.
One of the things I noticed most in comparison to Italy during my stay here in West Sussex, is the fantastic seasonal change. I was amazed to see the countryside gradually changing from shades of green to bright orange, red, and yellow, up to the bare architectural trees. Mind you, you do experience this change in Italy; the main difference is that you get quite early on in the season really cold nights accelerating the falling of leaves shortening, sadly, the autumnal feel.
Winters are also much colder in Italy, with days easily reaching below freezing. This dictates very much what plants you can have in your garden; the varieties’ of species I’ve seen around the south of England that don’t need protection from frost is astonishing! Olive trees, palms and rosemary bushes are a few that come to mind!
For the holidays I will be heading off to Italy to spend time with my lovely family. Being Catholic, every year we go to midnight mass the 24th of December and Christmas day is always a full day of eating, drinking and having a good time, and of course the joy of opening lots of pressies! A few families will be opening presents after midnight mass, but that’s just a personal choice. Another interesting fact is that most families do the Christmas tree on the 8th of December, which celebrates the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary and will be dismantling the decorations the 6th of January, at the Epiphany, which celebrates the revelation of god incarnate in Jesus Christ.
I must talk a little now, about my love of food! For me, the real plate that announces the arrival of winter is a local dish called Bagna caòda, which literally means “hot sauce”, made from garlic, anchovies and cream, that you eat with fresh raw vegetables in a round terracotta pot which you keep warm with little candles. Believe me it’s to die for!
Some might argue (my girlfriend) that it’s instead a soup prepared with cabbage, cheese and bread, made by Nonna Graziella but at the end of the day who’s really judging as long as you’re enjoying the food and surrounded by the people you love.
That’s all for now, but I would like to wish everyone a very Happy Christmas.
Buon Natale e Felice Anno Nuovo!!