by Melinda Gallo

Last holiday of the season

Today is the Epifania (Epiphany) and is mostly a holiday celebrated for for children who usually dress up in costumes, throw confetti, and either receive candy or carbone (coal) depending on whether they have been good or bad. In my Italian family, there aren't any young children, but it was just a good excuse to have a wonderful lunch together.

This time, my suocera (mother-in-law) invited the same people we had Christmas with: the brother of my suocero (father-in-law), his wife and their daughter and son-in-law.

My suocero called me around 11 a.m. to tell me that he'd come into the piazza below our house to pick me up and take me back to their house. I haven't ridden my bicicletta to their place in a long time because the weather has been cold and sometimes wet, and it gets dark early.

When I arrived at their house, I could smell the food in the oven; the smell of olive oil cooking slowly. I could tell she was making one of my favorites: rosticciana (pork spare ribs) and patate arrosto (roasted potatoes) cooked in the same pan so that the potatoes absorb all the oil and salt.

We ate our antipasti (appetizers), the primo (first course), which was fresh pasta with ragł, the rosticciana, arista con piselli (pork roast with peas), and insalata (salad).

Normally after I've had the primo I am already full, but I continued happily eating a little bit of everything. My suocera kept insisting that I eat more, but I ate as much as I could.

Afterwards, we were served ananas (pineapple) with slices of orange on top. And if that wasn't enough, a large bowl of fruit with clementini (mandarin oranges without seeds) and mele (apples).

To end the lunch, which was at least two hours later, my suocera brought out a huge torta (cake) that she bought earlier at the pasticceria (pastry shop). We divided it into eight pieces and we washed it down with some spumante (Italian sparkling wine).

Almost everyone else had some grappa or vin santo while they nibbled on other dessert items, like torrone (Italian nougat) and some cioccolatini (chocolates).

I had to stop after the spumante and sat down on the couch for a brief pisolino (nap) while everyone else continued talking and nibbling.

For the most part, today was a grim and grey day, so it was great to be indoors visiting with family and eating. It was probably the best way to celebrate the Epifania for us adults. The next festa (holiday) will not be celebrated for a few months, so today's lunch was a fantastic way to end the string of feste and celebrate the new year again.

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