Saturday, December 27, 2008


On Christmas Eve I was again invited to celebrate with friends and what a feast we had, reader: many people do not eat meat on 24th December so the pasta was seved with scampi. [I cannot eat fish so had plain pasta.] Also on offer were Linda's famous aita [chard] pies, olive bread fresh from the oven and ricotta baked in pastry [the latter not shown]. Next there was dentice fish which had been baked in salt and I took along a chicken dish which I have shown you before, pollo alla Irma. After this, a fresh fruit salad in the biggest container I have ever seen arrived, followed by a Christmas tree cake baked by Linda and Chiara and traditional biscuits: the honey biscuits at the back are called nucatoli and the S-shaped ones, which are filled with fig jam, are mustazzole. There was also cobaita or giuggiulena in dialect, made with sesame seeds and then came the panettone and liqueurs.

We finally opened our presents at 2 am and, just to show you that I really am alive and kicking, here I am, draped in my finery!

My Christmas Day was rather different this year as I was delighted to be invited to Christmas lunch with Rosa and her family. They are, originally, from Albania so the food mixed the two cultures: you can just see bollito on the left, behind the salad, and there was the tenderest veal cooked with garlic and herbs [on the right of the table]. There were focacce filled with broccoli, tomato and onion and cheese plus a wonderful ham and salame pizza made by Rosa's daughter. Then the freshest mandarins to finish along with more panettone!

As we were chatting, I learnt more of the family's story and, as it it is a heartwarming one, I will share it with you now: some years ago, Rosa's husband came to Sicily, perfectly legally, in search of work, which he found. He learnt Italian quickly and, once he was settled, wanted to send for Rosa and his three children. However, he could not quite fulfill the financial requirements for bringing the whole family into Italy at that time, so found himself having to make an agonising decision: which child would have to wait? Finally he decided to send for Rosa and his eldest child, a girl at a vulnerable age, plus the youngest child, a boy. The middle child, a girl, was left with a relative but when this relative became ill, she was taken in by a family she didn't know well. Rosa and her husband of course grieved for their second daughter and after a few months Rosa was so upset that she ended up in hospital. Eventually officialdom heard of the family's plight and for once officialdom showed that it had a heart: the Comune, realising that this was a hard-working family who wanted only a chance to give their children a better life, made up the financial shortfall and, after a separation of nine months the middle child was able to join her parents. I watched a video of a welcome ceremony for her held by her school and there the whole family are, crying for joy at being reunited and surrounded by friends and those who had helped them.

Everyone who emigrates leaves something behind: a house full of memories, a place with which you are familiar or even your aspirations but sometimes it is necessary to leave a loved one behind and I cannot imagine what this feels like. In Britain I taught many women from war-torn countries who did not even know whether their loved one at home was alive or dead. So it was heartening, especially at Christmas, to learn of this immigration story which has a happy ending.


CherryPie said...

I am so glad that story had a happy ending! It also sounds like you have been having fun over Christmas :-)

Portlandier said...

What a nice story and a wonderful Christmas.

Anne in Oxfordshire said...

A lovely story with a HAPPY ending.

What a great way to spend Christmas eve..and what a feast..the pasta with Scampi, reminds me of our holiday!!

Trubes said...

Oh that was a moving story Welshcakes. The food looks delicious and you look lovely too.
So glad your health seems to be improving...Enjoy the rest of the festive season.


fake consultant said...

i've been meaning to write...but we have had so much snow the past two weeks or so that it has become the central focus of our attention.

you can see from these pics how serious it was...and until the melt started last night (yea, rain!) there was nearly a meter of the accursed stuff in the front yard.

it is indeed a pleasure to hear that you did not have to shovel anything--and beyond that, it's a pleasure to hear that such a happy time came from an otherwise very tough situation.

Liz Hinds said...

What a lovely story! And such feasts! And you look gorgeous in your finery!

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, cherry. Yes, it was good to hear. I had a great Xmas, thank you! Thank you, Miss B. Hi, Anne. Yes, it was lovely. Have sent you my phone no. Thanks, Trubes. You have a few for me while you're at it, as I have to be a good girl for a while! xx Hello, FC. Lovely to hear from you. I hope the snow does not spoil your whole festive season. Auguri. Thanks, Liz. Is George behaving today?

Nunyaa said...

I love the new hair Welshcakes, and the outfit, stunning.
I had pretzels for Christmas dinner, was only me anyways . Wishing you all the best for 2009, love and happiness always to you and Ms Simi x

jams o donnell said...

I am so glad there was a happy ending Welshcakes

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

You are very kind, nunyaa. I hope they were very special pretzels! Wishing you a much happier 2009, Love, Simi and me xx
Hi, jams. So am I. Hope you're having a good festive season there.

Sally said...

What mounds of delicious food! What heart-warming stories that put the goodness of Christmas bang in the middle, and, best of all, GREAT to see a photo of you dear Welshcakes, looking unutterably glam and very much alive and kicking.

James Higham said...

Human tragedy takes many forms.

jmb said...

Very late to comment on this. What wonderful food and indeed a heartwarming tale.
To Italians family is everything and in a way it does not surprise me at all that they responded to get this family reunited.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Thank you so much, Sally. I'm glad you liked the post - and my new look!
It certainly does, James.
Comments welcome whether late or not, jmb. Yes, Italians were certainly able to empathise with this family.


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