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New Year’s Food Traditions in Italy

Date 12.29.2018

Italians celebrate New Year’s Eve, known as the Vigilia, Capodanno or Festa di San Silvestro, with a cenone (big feast), often featuring foods symbolic of wishes for the coming year, and washed down with plenty of Prosecco or spumante (“sparkling wine”). Felice Anno Nuovo!!!

Lenticchie (Lentils)

The star of many New Year’s dinners throughout Italy is lentils; with their coin-like shape, they were traditionally believed to bring prosperity in the new year. They are commonly served with either cotechino or zampone.

Cotechino

Pork is considered a lucky New Year’s food because it’s so fatty and rich and the classic accompaniment for New Year’s lentils in many parts of Italy is cotechino. Originally from Modena, a town in the Emilia-Romagna region, cotechino is a large sausage made from pork rind, meat, fat, and spices. It’s usually sold partially cooked or raw, and then simmered over low heat and sliced into rounds before serving.

Risotto in bianco (White risotto)

In Piemonte and Friuli, grains of rice represent coins, and while cooking, rice grows in the pot the way that you’d like your wealth to multiply in the new year, so a traditional New Year’s dinner includes a risotto in bianco (white risotto).

Tortellini or Cappelletti in Broth

In the Emilia-Romagna region, tortellini or cappelletti, small filled pasta dumplings, are often eaten on New Year’s in a rich, meaty broth. Capodanno, one of the several Italian names for the new year, literally means the “head of the year” and cappelletti means “little hats,” so perhaps that’s why it’s an appropriate way to “cap off” the old year and begin the new one

Sfincione (Sicilian-Style Pizza)

In Sicily, a New Year’s treat that “non può mancare” is sfincione, a thick-crust, rectangular pizza made with onions, bread crumbs, and caciocavallo cheese, the ancestor of what is known as “Sicilian-style pizza” in the United States.

This makes a great finger food for New Year’s Eve parties

Veneziana or Pandoro

Veneziana is a sweet, buttery leavened cake similar to classic Italian yeasted Christmas cakes (Veronese pandoro or Milanese panettoneminus the candied fruit and topped with crunchy pearl sugar and slivered almonds and traditionally enjoyed in Venice on New Year’s Eve. Long, thin slices of star-shaped pandoro are also often served at New Year’s Eve parties, dusted with powdered sugar and perhaps dipped in melted dark chocolate.