Tuesday, November 30

Celebrating the True Meaning of Thanksgiving in the Italian Countryside

 We may be a million miles away from America (OK more like 5,000), but every year we celebrate the true meaning of Thanksgiving deep in the Italian countryside, without a pilgrim in site. I never thought it would take us leaving the U.S. to properly celebrate & truly understand the meaning of this holiday. 
Jason carving the turkey
Jason & I take this opportunity to 'give thanks' to those that have helped & supported us throughout the year, our friends & neighbors who help make our life here possible.  The guest list includes of course Dott. Gaggi & his wife (our adopted Italian family) & neighbors like Sylvia & Pieter who contribute in countless ways, Beppe who donates seeds & starters for the garden/farm every year, Severino who let us borrow his truck when we were building our chicken coop, Pierangelo our farmer & bearer of wood, Maria, Pia & Ida the old grandma's that have taught Jason how to roll pasta & perfect his sauces, Marco who helps stock our wine cellar and Vittorio our master of meats, whom we cure hundres of kilos of meat with. These are just a few of the wonderful people that share their recipes, jump the car when its dead, lend a helping hand without a second thought & teach us the true meaning of the word 'neighbor' and how to better be one ourselves.  Plus they are the "over the top & kooky" characters that shape our experiences here & teach us how to live a truly authentic Italian life - every day! For that and much more we are thankful.

Maria rolling pasta for our Thanksgiving lunch
It is our most favorite lunch to host - we combine the traditions of the Thanksgiving turkey, stuffing & pumpkin pie with that of the Italian holidays with dishes like crostini di fegatini (chicken liver) & cappelletti in brodo (little stuffed hats in broth). The entire meal is made with produce from our farm, including the chicken & eggs (we order our turkey from a neighbor butcher). For most of our guests this is the first time they have ever seen, let alone eaten a turkey roasted whole in the oven - its straight out of the American movies for them & they love it - taking pictures with the turkey!
Making pasta with 50 eggs for cappelletti with a few local nonna's
The week before is spent prepping for the feast - slaughtering chickens for the broth, pasta stuffing & crostini, plus hours in the kitchen making cappelletti with a team of grandma's - rolling, stuffing & closing the tiny delicate pasta filled hats. Jason made the dough with 50 eggs from our chickens! Coming together to work on this meal with the locals even more solidifies the feeling of family, community & holiday for me. As we work our fingers gently closing the pasta, the room is filled with warmth from the fire & good ol' Bing crooning the Christmas classics, interrupted by the endless banter of Gaggi 'busting chops':
"you didn't close the pasta right, are you done rolling the dough, next time make it more rectangular...what would you do without me, I'm the only one who knows how to do it right, you see how good I am at this..." 
Note: This is in dialect & he's talking to the old ladies - the experts! They just fire fake insults right back at him, all of us erupting in laughter. - Ahhh  feels like family to me!

American Thanksgiving - Italian Ringraziamente Menu

Meat & Cheese - Prosciutto e Formaggio
Tart of Greens with Parmesan & Formaggio di Fossa - Torta di Bietola e Formaggio


Turkey with Cornbread Stuffing - Tacchino e Ripieno con Pane di Maize
Potato & Cabbage Mash - Lesso di Cavolo

Mix of desserts brought by the guests

Now that's a frisky Italian - Beppe (in his late 80's) asked me for my phone number!

Three years ago we moved out of the U.S., but we've never lost the American spirit to celebrate the holidays!
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