[Thoughts on the Table – 86] Christmas Traditions from Growing up in Sicily, Canada, and Milan

pizza maker

A classic Christmas special, featuring two very special guests: my wife Candace and our dear friend Miriam. Join us to hear us compare our different childhood traditions between a farm in Saskatchewan (Canada), an apartment in Palermo (Sicily), and one near Milan.

During the episode, we talk about how Nativity scenes can take on a local flavor, Miriam’s riveting performance in her childhood Christmas play, stockings, the presents-opening ceremony (between candlelight and spotlight!), and of course and at length about the food of the holidays!

The music in the episode is by www.purple-planet.com.

Paolo Rigiroli

Author: Paolo Rigiroli

Now based in the UK, Paolo is an Italian who lived in Canada for nearly 18 years and blogs about Italian food and its many aberrations.

9 thoughts on “[Thoughts on the Table – 86] Christmas Traditions from Growing up in Sicily, Canada, and Milan”

  1. Hey Paolo! Just listened to your holiday episode. Happy to see you’re podcasting again. This one was a lot of fun. Your impressions of Canadian cooking were hilarious… I hope your in-laws don’t listen to the pod, lol!

    Merry Christmas to you and Candace!

    1. Frank! Thanks for listening! Yeah… this may get me into trouble. But I say everything with love, so I hope they’ll forgive me! Merry Christmas to you and your family!

  2. This was so much fun! You should do this as a zoom next year so we can see you all! This made me want to make the pumpkin in agrodolce – I’ve always wanted to try it. Do you know if Miriam’s square pizza was sfincione? Oh, and the crema al mascarpone – I had a recipe on my blog for that (from my Milanese neighbors) a couple of months ago in preparation for Christmas. It’s the best way to eat panettone.

    I loved this episode, Paolo. I hope you and Candace had a wonderful Christmas. Stay safe!

    1. Hi David, so glad you enjoyed it! Your connections to Sicily do come through. Love mascarpone cream, will check out your recipe and compare it to mine – though they’re likely quite similar 🙂

  3. Hi David and happy new year! I’m so glad you enjoyed this! We had so much fun in recording it!
    I definitely recommend the zucca in agrodolce, one of my favourite dishes ever!
    The pizza so called “a taglio” I was talking about may come with different condiments, generally Margherita, Capricciosa, Parmigiana etc. the more rustic ones I would say, nothing too fancy. Of course we also get the Sfincione! The sfincione is normally thicker than the other pizzas, to be true to its name that means “sponge”.
    Other than the traditional sfincione we may also get the so called “faccia di vecchia” (literally “old lady’s face”), which is a hybrid version of pizza and sfincione, delicious 🙂

    1. This opens up a whole new world of bakery-style pizza to me! And yes, I feel Zucca in Agrodolce is becoming more and more famous by the minute 🙂 Thanks again Miriam for being so kind and up for this! I learned a lot.

  4. Thanks again for having me, I sure learned loads as well about food, Christmas traditions and about you and the sweet Candace.
    And yes, the now famous zucca in agrodolce, will be one of my treats next time we’ll be finally able to meet again! 🙂
    For the new and old fans of this dish, here’s its little story: the sweet and sour pumpkin is also known as fegato dei sette cannoli (in dialect “ficatu ri setti cannoli”), literally “liver of seven spouts”. There are several legends about the origin of the “seven spouts” in the name, some refer to a fountain with seven spouts in the Vucciria market in Palermo, some others to name of a city district, but the reference to the liver is common in all versions: the red pumpkin when cooked, with its body and meaty consistency could be likened to the most expensive liver.
    Back in the day, only rich people were able to afford meat, whether the poor ate what they could… but they were definitely rich in creativity. Plus, this “liver” is suitable for vegetarians, ah! 🙂

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