My Big Fat Italian Christmas

My Big Fat Italian Christmas | ©Tom Palladio ImagesCelebrating Natale (Christmas) here in Italy is way more complicated than just exchanging gifts placed under the tree. That’s the easy part. Anyone can do that.

No, the art of negotiating your way through the Yuletide in the Bel Paese takes great hand-eye coordination and a strong will to endure until the very last drop and morsel as you claim your spot around la tavola (the table), pick up the knife and fork, lock elbows with your table mates and begin to defend yourself against a continuous onslaught of mouth-watering dishes, one right after the other.

My Big Fat Italian Christmas | ©Tom Palladio ImagesThis culinary battlefront can ensue for hours, even days if you allow it. And, I did as I earned my stripes during my extended family’s annual holiday feedbag marathon known as My Big Fat Italian Christmas (MBFIC), where there is absolutely no rest for the weary.

The MBFIC began on the “eve of” at my place with a fish-only menu for four, prepped at il Ceppo, Vicenza’s upscale gastronomy shop, and carried home in three of its signature plastic totes.

My Big Fat Italian Christmas | ©Tom Palladio ImagesThe arsenal consisted of a trio of antipasti (appetizers), a quartet of primi (first course), three secondi (second course), and a dolce (dessert) of cantucci (twice baked cookies) dipped in vin santo (sweet wine).

All of the dishes were paired with two white wines: a Müller-Thurgau varietal from the Alto Adige region and Scaia (a blend of Chardonnay-Garganega) from the Veneto.

My Big Fat Italian Christmas | ©Tom Palladio ImagesThe holiday endurance test continued on the “day of” over at my nephew’s house, where 30 pairs of knives and forks went mano-a-mano up against another multi-course menu prepped from scratch by F, P and A.

A brigade of delectables marched across the table in squads of two appetizers, two first course dishes, three second course dishes, and countless desserts waiting to be picked off one by one.

The wine pairings for this gastronomic face off was lead by a Sauvignon Blanc from the Colli Friulano and supported by two reds from the Trentino: Pinot Nero and Sarica (a blend of Syrah-Pinot Nero).

With the two-day feast now in the history books, but still winding its way through my stomach, all that’s left to do is outflank the last dishes still standing: a refrigerator full of plastic containers filled with leftovers from My Big Fat Italian Christmas.


©The Palladian Traveler | ©Tom Palladio Images




  1. Ciao again, Ok, you have piqued my interest! I know you can’t name ALL of the dishes you were served, but mentioning a few would really complete the “picture” for me. Also, who are F, P and A? Your nephew’s house must be very, very large to accommodate that many people for a sit down dinner. Bravo!! and grazie for sharing

      1. Oh gosh, I never noticed that the menu was on the green poinsettia card. Fabulous!

  2. Well Tom, it looks like you had a truly gourmet Italian Christmas. My Irish turkey with all the trimmings, though good, was somewhat less exotic. Tanti Auguri. Orna (with the R rolled!!)

  3. Thank you for sharing. Now I don’t feel so bad about adding 1kg 🙂 All the best for 2014, Tom, and I look forward to many more of your posts

  4. Your photos are absolutely mouthwatering and even though I just ate, I could pull up a chair to your table and do it all over again! Thank you for the visual effects of a wonderful meal. Hope your Christmas was the best. Happy New year!

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