martedì 6 maggio 2008

Italian Wedding Traditions

Well it’s finally May, which marks the beginning of wedding season, when many blushing brides-to-be are getting excited about their big day and frantically trying to organize all the last-minute details. If you happen to be one of them, and are interested in bringing a little Italian style to your nuptials, you’ll find some good ideas here for what makes for a traditional Italian wedding feast.

First – and, most importantly – the wedding cake. The typical Italian wedding cake is actually much like the modern American wedding cake – multiple layers, with a cake topper on top. Traditionally, the cake topper is a bride and groom figurine, although the modern trends include many other varieties, such as a shining letter symbolizing the new couple’s last initial. As always, traditions can vary greatly by region in Italy, and in some regions, cake is not served as part of a traditional wedding meal. Of course, espresso and other coffee drinks are served with the cake, following the meal, which can consist of as many as twelve to fourteen different courses. (We in Italy take our food and our celebration very seriously, and one goes hand-in-hand with the other. Therefore, big celebration = lots of wonderful food!)

For the all-important cocktail hour which precedes the meal, many drinks are served to the guests and to the bridal party. Stronger drinks for the men, and sweet liquor for the women. There are a couple of foods that are still very common and traditionally served at Italian weddings. Wanda are fried dough pieces in the shape of a bowtie, coated with powdered sugar. And white sugar coated almonds, called confetti, are also very common. In the regions of Italy that do not celebrate with a wedding cake, sometimes these almonds are served in a decorative bag or box at each place setting, in place of the cake.

The reception begins with a course of antipasti, consisting of cheese, olives, peppers, mushrooms and other light choices. Chicken, lamb or salmon are common as main dishes, and the menu often includes – yes, you guessed it – Italian wedding soup, as well as meatballs and rice. Following all the food and festivities, the bride and groom may break a glass or a vase. The number of pieces it breaks into is said to represent the number of years of happiness the couple will enjoy.

Even if you’re not planning a wedding this spring, it’s always fun to explore the traditions of a country so rich with tradition as Italy. Be sure to pick up a copy of The Italian Kitchen to explore the many flavorful authentic dishes you can create for your family!

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