I hate the word “nougat”

Classic Italian TorroneNougat” is a gross word. Like “moist”, “plump”, “fondle”, or “panties”, I hate even pronouncing it. *Bleargh* :-(  However, I’m going to have to tackle the word “nougat” in order to take on today’s Christmas blog post. Ah, the things I do for you guys. ;-)

There is a very typical Italian Christmas candy called torrone. It’s basically made of honey, sugar, and egg whites to form a ….. *sigh” … nougat. (I just puked in my mouth a little bit…) Then things like hazelnuts, almonds, candied oranges, vanilla, and chocolate can be added to create different variants. 'Nilla & H-Nuts

My first experience with torrone happened back when I was young. I remember my Italian Consolazio grandparents bringing it to our house every Christmas. They brought bite-sized pieces of torrone, individually packaged in little boxes with an Italian bakery guy on ‘em, and there were flavors like classic, orange, and lemon.

One great place to pick up torrone, here in Milan, is the Oh Bej! Oh Bej! Christmas market. The name of the market means “Oh So Nice! Oh So Nice!” in Milanese dialect. That’s usually where I get my torrone to bring home at Christmas. If I dared show up without any, I’m not sure if my parents would even let me in the house…

The Milan Christmas Market

The Milan Christmas Market

Since my parents will probably read this (they better!), I’m gonna have to prove that I’ve already picked up this year’s supply. Here’s a picture of me below with the torrone I got. So, Mom & Dad, hang my stocking by the chimney with care, because I’m coming home … with nougat!

Italian Torrone - American Boy

Italian Torrone – American Boy

MERRY CHRISTMAS

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The Christmas Witch

Buon Natale a tutti!

My non-Italian readers may find the above picture to be strangely out-of-place during the Holiday season. It seems more like a Halloween thing rather than a Christmas one, doesn’t it?

Well, this witch with a heart of gold is very Christmasy in Italy. Her name is La Befana (or “Beffy” as I like to call her). She flies around on her broomstick and fills the stockings of  little boys and girls on the night of January 5th for the Christian holiday called Epiphany on the 6th. She gives candy and small toys to good children and coal to bad ones, just like Santa Claus does in America.

In the USA we have Santa that does both presents under the tree and the stockings while Italians have Babbo Natale (Santa Clause in Italian) for Christmas presents under the tree and La Befana for the stockings at the beginning of January.

Apparently, Italian Santa Claus was too busy enjoying “la bella vita” to get around to taking care of stockings, so he enlisted the help of the good witch.

Personally, I think it’s kind of cool to have the gifts split up between two different holidays that are close together. Getting presents on multiple days is sort of like a mini Hanukkah!

Well, I hope you’ve all been good this year or Beffy will be leaving you a lump of coal. If you’re lucky, maybe she’ll give you some candy coal instead of the real thing!

Christmas and Italian Cinema

First of all, MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Italy has this tradition of putting out trashy comedic Christmas films every year right around … well … Christmastime. This specific genre of trashy comedic Italian Christmas films is called Cinema Panettone. It gets its name from the popular (and extremely traditional) sweet Italian Christmas bread called panettone, which is a specialty of Milan.

Panettone

These Cinema Panettone films always have the same sort of protagonist: an old, sort of funny, kind of gross, perverted old man. This man always gets himself mixed up in some crazy hijinks that more-often-than-not come about because he is trying to catch the eye of the young, sexy, and usually foreign girl. Some typical gags that can usually be found in Cinema Panettone are:

  • man almost kills himself on skis to impress hot blonde chick and finishes his downhill winter catastrophe completely naked because his clothes got caught on a tree on the way down … man’s balls are completely frozen
  • man hides naked on icy 4th floor windowsill to escape angry muscular boyfriend of the American girl that he has been trying to sleep with …  man falls and in one way or another hurts his balls in the process
  • Man farts at restaurant with hot girl that would never actually be seen with him in real life … man tries to get up quickly to excuse himself only to find that his balls are somehow stuck to the tablecloth, thus overturning everything and spilling red wine all over the ample bosom of the girl

These films are usually panned by critics (and justifiably so) but tend to rake in the dough at the box office. Though shallow and predictable, these films can get a laugh out of me from time to time and they work as far as simple entertainment goes. Plus, it’s an Italian Christmas tradition, so count me in!

Here are some Cinema Panettone movie posters for you to enjoy. Consider it my Christmas gift to you. You’re welcome!