Good morning my fellow bloggers and not, it’s Tuesday morning, January 1st 2013, it sounds so official doesn’t it? A year which we all thought (NOT) was going to end on December 21st did not, and ended actually when it was meant to be, on December 31st!
After many years in the States, adapting to an Italian New Year’s, or better to a Neapolitan New Year’s Eve has taken some adjusting to, but it surely is unique in so many ways. Neapolitans on New Year’s Eve have a very big dinner, they eat finger foods during the day from the left overs of the past few days. Or one of my favorites “pizza con la scarola” a veggie crust pie, filled with escarole, nuts, anchovies, black olives, raisins and pine nuts. It’s a most delicious experience that one must try, a recipe will follow, I’ll ask my 96-year-old grandmother. Plus there is a tradition of going from house to house (when you have enough time to do it all), relative to relative, friend to friend, and every house you stop in, they serve you coffee, espresso coffee, slices of pandoro
or panettone (Christmas sponge cakes). By the time you get to the dinner you’re already stuffed. Let me tell you though that when you have a Neapolitan mother in law and related family, there is no such thing as a NO!
Personally I stayed home all day until my wife called and I went over to my in-laws for a dinner which started at 7.30pm and finished at 1.30am. So it all started with some light antipasto, bruschette (pronounced bruskette, with a good double TT sound). Traditional Italian bruschetta is a toasted slices of bread, every region has a different kind so depending on where you go they taste completely different. You dice some fresher tomatoes, a dash of salt and pepper and some garlic (if you can digest it, or without, is just fine, maybe you can add onions, or some other herb). A yummy way to start the dinner.
A traditional Neapolitan New Year’s Eve dinner starts with “spaghetti alle vongole”, clams or anything seafood is part of this fantastic evening. The dish is a red dish as the spaghetti and clams are made with tomato sauce, accompanied with a homemade glass of red wine. Here in the area the majority of people make their own wine every year around October, so all the wine you can drink is just the right way to enjoy a meal here in the South.
The spaghetti are then followed by what they call “insalata di rinforzo” God I guess I would translate it with a re-enforced salad, meaning that the majority of the foods served were preserved in vinegar, so you have a plate of cauliflower, anchovies, small red bell peppers, potatoes, and the most delicious of all an octopus salad with diced parsley and garlic or onion, depending on your taste. Just a great evening to enjoy seafood. My personal favorite come right after, called a “fritto misto” meaning calamari, shrimp, and all that God has to offer from the sea, so good you could never get enough. Don’t forget a great glass of homemade white wine with the fish.
A this point, things need to slow down a bit because you start to feel a bit full and let me say that I’m being ironic, if it doesn’t come through from my words. There is then a slight mid meal break, where people talk or listen to the end of the year message from the President of the Italian Republic, a kind of State of the Union Address that we have in the States, or you just keep on eating by nibbling on olives or lupini (lupins). At this point wine starts to take effect and you feel light-headed as the red is quite strong and let’s not even talk about the white wine it goes straight to my head.
We then end the dinner with artichokes cooked in the fireplace, filled in the center with parsley, raisins, pine nuts, garlic and some put small diced pieces of pecorino or Parmesan cheese. Well, I’m getting hungry once again, thank God I’m getting ready to go over for a New Year’s lunch which is a meat based lunch and boy oh boy, tomorrow is diet time.
The night ends waiting for the clock to hit midnight and the famous countdown done with a show on one of our national TV stations and then out to watch the fireworks. Now, let me end by saying that fireworks in Naples begin at dusk or twilight, it seems like you’re in war as you hear explosions in the distance. Fireworks continue on until about one hour after midnight. The fireworks display can be seen from any roof top and all around the Vesuvius you can see all sorts of gorgeous colors. Just so you know, there is a very big illegal fireworks market in the area, so one must be very careful when buying them, or you might just injure yourself or even kill someone like a loved one, it happens every year in this city (always in first place for total of accidents on New Year’s Eve).
So while the show is a great one to see, always take precautions if you happen to celebrate this great day of the year in the Capitol of Southern Italy.
Let me wish you all a great Happy New Year and make it all you want it to be!
Your Neapolitan/American expat
PS…have to run to lunch…will be back with more corrections!