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EVERYTHING ITALIAN IN AMERICA
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Photographs in this issue are by Cesare Baccheschi and Daniele Demarco.
EVERYTHING ITALIAN IN AMERICA
his holiday season brings us closer to 2012, albeit much poorer. But the economic crisis doesn’t mean that we have to forgo the traditions that are part of our lives, especially in the holidays. However, we certainly must be wise, maybe wiser than in the past.
To send a positive message, but one centered on wisdom, i-Italy and its partners have decided to feature here not just advertising, but some true gifts for our readers. We also did it to remind us of other difficult times that Italy has gone through in the past. Those challenges have often produced customs, products, and recipes that in their simplicity have enriched the Italian culture. You can be Italian, buy Italian, and still be wise, prudent, and happy. In this print edition, you’ll find information about holidays celebrated according to Italian tradition, recommendations for events and books, as well as a handful of coupons for discounts and special offers. Cut them out and bring them to the various merchants. Rest assured that that we have selected the best of italianità in New York just for you. And don’t forget to visit to www.i-Italy.org to read and learn about everything Italian—in Italy and in America.
Happy Holidays! Letizia Airos Editor in Chief, i-Italy.org
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Italian “Christmas”: Religious & Pagan by Natasha Lardera
lthough in Italy the December holiday season is commonly called "Christmas Holidays", its traditions are far from being merely religious. Christian, pagan and lay themes are indeed strictly interwoven.
This is visible even in the (Crèche), whose origins go back to St. Francis who staged the first living Nativity Scene back in 1223. The tradition of putting together a crèche started in the 17th and 18th centuries in several Italian cities, but the Neapolitan presepe is perhaps the most famous all over the world. San Gregorio Armeno street, in the heart of Naples' old town, is filled with tiny artisan workshops making nativity scenes and "terra cotta" figurines. These include Jesus, Madonna, and the shepherds, but also caricatured politicians and entertainment stars. Berlusconi, Obama, and Lady Gaga figured prominently in the past years. The reason is that originally the artisans used the presepe to offer a popular chronicle (and often a critique) of public life in Naples, summarizing major events and exposing its protagonists.
Rome is instead home to another tradition, that of zampognari (pipers), folk musicians who get their name from the instrument they play (zampogne, or bagpipes). They come down from the mountains around the city, wearing traditional costumes, and perform Christmas songs in the streets. Historically the zampognari were poor peasants and shepherds who toured the cities during the holidays asking for food and money.
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Italian “Christmas”: Reli ious & Pa an
Tombola is the forebear of the American Bingo—but in Italy (especially in the South) it is a traditional Christmas family game played usually around the dinner table. As each number is called out of a rotating drum or a box, they are typically announced by a little rhyme, the most famous of which are in Neapolitan dialect. These rhymes may refer to religious themes (for instance, #33 will be "The Years of Christ,") but many have a lay origin and even a clear teasing-meaning, which make everybody laugh in a rather politically incorrect manner. These include, among others: #21 'A femmena annura (The naked woman); #28 'E zizze (Women's breasts); #23 'O scemo (The idiot); and #48 'O muorto che pparla (Dead Man Talking). On market stalls all over the country, kids also find stockings, of all shapes and sizes, with the image, or figure of an old, ugly lady. This lady . She is not a witch, even though she flies on a is called broom, and, on the night of January 5th and the early hours of January 6th, brings to all good kids a stocking filled with candy and small toys, while those who did not behave, get a stocking filled with black coal. The origins of Befana are rooted in the ancient magical traditions of Italy's popular culture, but with the passing of time she came to combine both folkloric and religious mythologies, so that Befana’s treats parallel the Magi’s gifts brought to baby Jesus.
The day of Befana also marks the end of the holiday season. This is when all Christmas Trees are taken down and the last day of vacation for kids who, sadly, get ready to go back to school. (Natasha Lardera is senior editor at i-Italy).
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An Italian Holiday Dinner by Michele Scicolone
very year just before Christmas, I start making lists. One list is for the gifts I need to buy, while another is for all of the things I need to do, like decorating the house. The list I most enjoy making is one of all the old traditional family dishes I will make for the holidays. Preparing these recipes not only reminds me of the past, but it is also the best way I know to pass on my Italian heritage to the next generation. Among the dishes I will be preparing this year is manicotti, delicate crepes filled with cheese and served with a simple tomato sauce, and roasted capon stuffed with pork, veal and Parmigiano Reggiano. For dessert, we will have struffoli, crisp little fritters rolled in honey and sprinkled with multicolored candy sprinkles.
Struffoli are part of what is known in Italy as “la cucina povera” or “the food of the poor”—referring to the traditional peasant dishes of the Southern countryside, where food was scarce and making a living from the land was difficult. For my family, it wouldn’t be Chistmas without them. So, here is my recipe...
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An Italian Holida Dinner
Makes 8 servings
1 cup all-purpose flour plus more for kneading the dough 1/4 teaspoon salt 2 large eggs, beaten 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon or orange zest Vegetable oil for frying 1 cup honey Multicolored sprinkles, candied fruits or nuts In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt. Add the eggs and lemon zest and stir until well blended. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead until smooth, about 5 minutes. Add a little more flour if the dough seems sticky. Shape the dough into a ball. Cover the dough and let rest 30 minutes. Cut the dough into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Roll one slice between your palms into a 1/2-inch-thick rope. Cut the rope into 1/2-inch nuggets. If the dough feels sticky, use a tiny bit of flour to dust the board or your hands. (Excess flour will cause the oil to foam up when you fry the struffoli.) Line a tray with paper towels. Pour about 2 inches of oil into a wide heavy saucepan. Heat the oil to 370Â°F on a frying thermometer, or until a small bit of the dough dropped into the oil sizzles and turns brown in 1 minute. Being careful not to splash the oil, slip just enough struffoli into the pan to fit without crowding. Cook, stirring once or twice with a slotted spoon, until the struffoli are crisp and evenly golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the struffoli with a slotted spoon or skimmer and drain on paper towels. Repeat with the remaining dough. When all of the struffoli are fried, gently heat the honey just to a simmer in a large shallow saucepan. Remove from the heat. Add the drained struffoli and toss well. Pile the struffoli onto a serving plate. Decorate with the sprinkles, candied fruits, or nuts. Store covered with an overturned bowl at room temperature. (Michele Scicolone is i-Italyâ€™s food editor. This recipe is from her book, 1,000 Italian Recipes)
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Italian Holiday Wines Under $20 by Charles Scicolone
uring the holiday season, my wife Michele tells me what she is going to cook and I try to find the best wine for each dish. For our Christmas dinner, she is making manicotti followed by roasted capon with struffoli for dessert. I have selected a Dolcetto and a Valpolicella to begin the meal, both of which will go very well with the manicotti. For the roasted capon, the Rosso di Montalcino is just right. Matching wine with Struffoli is a challenge but I will be serving Moscato Dâ€™Asti, a low alcohol dessert wine that is slightly sparkling.
Italy is no longer known for cheap wines confined to Italian immigrants' restaurants adorned with red and white checkered tablecloths. However it has kept a tradition of very good yet inexpensive wines and it still offers the best balance between quality and cost. This makes Italian wine a very
good buy, especially in these difficult economic times.
The wines I have selected are all under $20 and are available in most wine stores with a good Italian selection...
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Italian Holida Wines Under $20
“D’OH” 2010 Piedmont Dolcetto DOC 100% Dolcetto Clavesana. Fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks, this is a fresh fruity wine with hints of cherry. The slogan on the label says, “You D’OH Something to Me” and I agree. You will find this wine very enjoyable. $10
Classical Lucchine DOC 2009 Tedeschi (Veneto) is made from 25% Corvina, 25% Corvinone, 30% Rondinella, 20% other red grapes. Lucchine is the name of the vineyard where the grapes are grown in the heart of the Valpolicella area. The vines are over 25 years old. The grapes are hand harvested at the beginning of October. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks. The grapes are in contact with the skins for only eight days. This is to ensure that the wine will be fresh and fruity. After malolatic fermentation the wine spends the winter in stainless steel and is bottled in March and released one month later. This wine has fresh red fruit flavors and aromas with hints of cherries, and very good acidity. $18
Rosso di Montalcino
DOC 2009 Castelli Martinozzi (Tuscany) 100% Sangiovese. This wine is aged in oak barrels for 8 to 10 months and a minimum of 2 months in the bottle before release. With berry scents, violets and cherry flavors and a lingering finish and aftertaste, this is a wine that deserves to be called a “Baby Brunello”. $18
2010 DOCG Cascinetta Vietti (Piedmont) 100% Moscato The grapes are selected from vineyards that are almost 35 years old. The grapes are crushed, pressed and clarified. Alcoholic fermentation occurs in stainless steel tanks to preserve some natural CO2 from the fermentation. There is no malolatic fermentation which preserves acidity, varietal fruit character and freshness. The wine is held in stainless steel tanks until bottling. This Moscato d'Asti has intense aromas of peaches, rose petals and ginger. The wine is delicately sweet and sparkling with modest acidity, good balance, complexity and a finish of fresh apricots. With only 5.5% alcohol, it is a perfect dessert wine. $16 (Charles Scicolone is i-Italy’s wine editor)
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Italy in New York: Food for Thought by Cesare Baccheschi
here is more to taste of Italy besides the gluttonous sin and the devouring passion that this city has for Italian food.
“Italy in New York”
—the Within i-Italy we have created first and most comprehensive calendar of events of Italian interest in the city. You can find it on the web (www.ItalyinNewYork.com) as well as at Eataly NY, where we broadcast our calendar non-stop through three digital signage displays located at the 5th Ave entrance, close to the Lavazza bar.
Here is a little selection from our calendar.
The renown is hosting an exhibition that explores the importance of portraits during the Italian Renaissance, a specific moment in history where Italy was the pulsating fulcrum of western society. The exhibit is entitled “The Renaissance Portrait from Donatello to Bellini”—and the title already tells everything! (December 21 - March 18).
If Renaissance sounds too remote to you, try the following and you will not be disappointed.
The is hosting a spectacular and provocative exhibition by Maurizio Cattelan entitled All, which groups together “all” his most important sculptures, paintings and pictures that have been exposed in the past twenty years all
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Ital in New York: Food for Thou ht over the world. The artist claims he is retiring after the exhibition is over, so this show is going to be his lats (November 4 - January 22).
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The is hosting the works of sculptor and painter Enrico Castellani. This collection of works “although created decades apart, exemplifies Castellani’s signature style and merges art, space and architecture to transcend the confines of painting” (November 11 - January 7). Another interesting perspective over the evolution of figurative arts in that is hosting the exhiItaly is offered by the bition called The Odyssey Within: an Exhibition of Fine Art by Greek and Italian Artists. A very interesting, original outlook on some contemporary trends in Italian art (December 16 -January 7).
hosts Italian TreasLast, but certainly not least, the ures, a series of rare and exceptional films—together with a few perennial favorites—from the 1950s and 1960s golden age by celebrated as well as lesser-known Italian film-makers. Some of the titles are Signore e Signori (The Birds, the Bees, and the Italians, 1965, by Pietro Germi) La Decima Vittima (The Tenth Victim, 1966, by Elio Petri) and Bellissima (1951, by Luchino Visconti) (December 22 - January 5).
(Cesare Baccheschi is a journalist and multimedia editor at i-Italy)
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Ten Italian & Italian American Books A selecion of ten Italian and Italian American books published in 2011, almost all of which are available in English and Italian at Rizzoli’s Bookstore, Barnes & Noble, or online at amazon.com. Fiction and non-fiction for your allItalian holidays. Frida Giannini (editor), Gucci. The Making of. Gucci as never before, including thought-provoking essays, commentaries, and authoritative anecdotes along with previously unpublished contemporary and archival photographs. Published in conjunction with the opening of the new Gucci Museum in Florence, Gucci is the ultimate celebration of the worldrenowned fashion house. (Rizzoli)
Andrea Camilleri, The Potter’s Field Witty and entertaining, the Inspector Montalbano novels by Sicilian writer Andrea Camilleri—a master of the Italian detective story—have become favorites of mystery fans everywhere. The Potter's Field is Montalbano’s latest installment translated into English. (Penguin)
Riccardo Muti, An Autobiography From a small town in the south of Italy to the pinnacle of the classical music world, Riccardo Muti has enthralled audiences across the globe as conductor of the world’s most prestigious orchestras and opera houses. Now, after fifty years on the podium, he reflects on an extraordinary career, working with the great artists of his generation. (Rizzoli Ex Libris)
Andrew Graham-Dixon, Caravaggio. A Life
Sacred and Profane
A commanding new biography of the Italian master’s tumultuous life and mysterious death.The author immerses readers in the world of Italy at the height of the Counter-Reformation, presenting fresh details about Caravaggio's sex life, his many crimes and public brawls, as well as his tragic death at the age of thirtyeight. (W. W. Norton & Company)
Erri De Luca, The Day Before Happiness In the post-World War II Naples, a young orphan comes under the protection of Don Gaetano, the superintendent of an apartment building. He is a generous man and is very attached to the boy. Years later, haunted by sex and love, the orphan will need Don Gaetano’s help more than ever. (Other Press)
Ten Italian and Italian/American Books Adriana Trigiani, Don’t Sing at the Table Best seller author Adriana Trigiani reveals how her grandmothers’ simple values have shaped her own life, sharing the experiences, humor, and wisdom of her beloved mentors to delight readers of all ages. She visits the past to seek answers to the essential questions that define the challenges women face today at work and at home. (Harper Paperbacks)
Lisa Scottoline, Francesca Serri Tella,
Best Friends, Occasional Enemies A hilarious new collection of essays that observe life from a mother/daughter perspective. Just like every mother and daughter in the world, the authors are the best of friends—99.9% of the time. Inspired by their weekly column, “Chick Wit” for The Philadelphia Inquirer, this book is one you’ll have to put down— just to stop laughing. (St. Martin's Press)
Pino Aprile, Terroni Terroni sold over 200,000 copies in Italy during its first year in print. It is one of those books that could cause a revolution, albeit a peaceful one, if read by enough people. It could become 'the spark that starts the fire' by igniting a sentiment of unity among southern Italians, who are discovering that something is missing in mainstream history books informing how Italy was united 150 years ago. (Bordighera Press)
Anthony Julian Tamburri, Re-viewing Italian Ameri-
cana: Generalities and Specificities on Cinema
Through keenly insightful readings of a variety of films, from fulllength features to shorts, Anthony Julian Tamburri illuminates the vital and continuous relationship between Italy and the United States. In doing so, he brilliantly decodes the continuous thematic interplay between Italy and Italian America. (Bordighera Press)
Letizia Airos & Ottorino Cappelli (editors)
“Guido.” Italian/American Youth and Identity Politics
This book includes essays that have appeared on i-Italy.org on the phenomenon of the "guido": its origins and its relationship to the Italian/American community. The writers share their own views on a phenomenon that has been filling newspapers and television programs, in reaction to the MTV reality show Jersey Shore. The community's "dirty laundry" is finally aired in public, without maintaining the convention of bella figura, as a modern and pluralistic community does and should do. (Bordighera Press)
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La ScuoLa d’ItaLIa GuGLIeLmo marconI La Scuola d’Italia Guglielmo Marconi, New York City is the only Italian-American, bilingual and bicultural school in North America. La Scuola, a co-educational Pre-K through 12th Grade private institution, is chartered by the Board of Regents of the University of the State of New York and fully recognized by the Italian Ministry of Education. La Scuola is also accredited by NYSAIS (New York State Association of Independent Schools). No prior knowledge of the Italian Language is required for students entering Pre-K through 9th grade: supplemental Italian as well as English as a second language classes are provided in each division and at all levels. Registrations for the 2012-2013 academic year are currently open; applications may be downloaded on our website www.lascuoladitalia.org . La Scuola is pleased to announce a special scholarship/financial aid program for entering Middle School and High School eligible students, based on family’s financial need and on merit assessed from the results of a qualifying exam. La Scuola is located on 12 East 96th Street (Main Campus, Preschool and Elementary) and 406 East 67th Street (Annex, Middle School and High School Campus). For information please call (212)-369-3290 or e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org and/or: email@example.com.
Published on Dec 13, 2011