A well-known Italian proverb clearly states “Natale con i tuoi, Pasqua con chi vuoi,” meaning that you should spend Christmas with your folks while you can choose whoever you want to be with for Easter. This simple yet eloquent expression of popular wisdom must have been invented by a fool since it is every Italian mother’s nightmare, mine in particular.
Easter is one of the biggest holidays on the Italian calendar, a spring version of its “most famous cousin that everybody loves”, Christmas. It announces the arrival of warmer days with colourful displays of chocolate eggs in shop windows, cute bunnies and toys everywhere. Each region has its piatti tipici, including eggs every which way, artichokes, roast lamb, chicken, a special dove-shaped sweet bready cake called “colomba” and chocolate eggs, which are always hollow and have a special surprise tucked inside. I was born and raised in the south of Italy, in a small town close to Caserta, and our Easter food tradition includes two delicious delicacies, pastiera and casiatello. One is a cake made from ricotta and cooked grain, while the other is a special sort of bread stuffed with meat and eggs. Every human being, sinner or saint, deserves to taste them at least once in a lifetime.