With bagpipes crescendoing and Christmas bells ringing “Tu scendi dalle stelle” or “From starry skies descending” in the kitchens of Nonnas everywhere, Christmastime is here. And that means cookie making. Italians take Christmas cookies very seriously. Actually, they take everything about Christmas very seriously. It is the happiest time of the year after all.
It is not unusual to have as many as ten different kinds of cookies on the holiday table. Snowflake shaped pizzelles, anise flavored cuccidatas, sesame cookies, almond paste angel wings, there is a cookie for every taste. And the nuts! We’re not just talking about the extended family members. Walnuts, almonds, pine nuts, chestnuts are all used to dress up the Christmas desserts.
In the weeks leading up to Christmas, Joe’s grandmother, mother,and aunts would gather to begin the cooking making process. This started with bags and bags of nuts. Nuts for roasting, for snacking and most importantly for baking. So much baking! All of the nuts needed to be shelled by hand and this took time.
Mommy Francis’ tray of cookies was her gift to her family. A labor of love. The kids were not even allowed to open the presents under the tree until Mommy Francis arrived with the food. You could say, Christmas did not officially begin in the Frigo household until Mommy Francis arrived with the cookies.
Purchase your Christmas pizzelles and other traditional holiday cookies at Frigos. Our imported chestnuts from Italy are in the store now and are ready for roasting!