This is November in Venice… Rose hues veil the morning skies while the cooler temperatures paint the water and sky cobalt blue. Or turquoise when dark clouds are temporarily veiling the sky.
Perhaps November is the month when Venetian red is at its best: the reddish brick wall facades are glowing in the subdued sun light. And so are the gardens with forgotten fruit like persimmons and the last rose buds. In November, the kitchen smells of rose syrup and pomegranates. While we make the pomegranates syrup just now, we use the rose syrup to make the typical Venetian November sweets, called le fave. They are eaten in the first week of November, celebrating All Saints Day.
Recipe of the Month:
Risotto alla Contadina – Risotto with persimmons, grapes, pinoli and squash and an exclusive, healthy and warming spice mixture).
November is the Month celebrating life in Venice. How Venetians survived their biggest crisis in history, a terrible bout of bubonic plague which struck in the year 1630/31 and killed almost half the population. This is why we still celebrate La Festa della Madonna della Salute on 21 November.
True, I’m showing you the sunny part of November in these pictures. I guess that about one third of the mornings in November start like this … Little fluffy clouds sprinkle the morning sky. On other days, the fog doesn’t lift and it gets freezing cold even. Then again, we might as well walk around without coats at noon because the sun is warming up the air.
November is a transition month in Venice, so to say. This theme is taken up by the popular story told in Venice around Saint Martin, L’estate di San Martino, the summer of Saint Martin, who according to legends split his coat and gave one part of it to a beggar to keep him warm… San Martino is also remembered by a special sweet in Venice which we will present in our upcoming blog post!
In the kitchen, we eat fave sweets at the beginning of the month, while on 21 November, a colorful fair takes place just outside the Basilica della Madonna della Salute, La Fiera della Salute. Also, and only on this day, can you eat fritole (fritelles, usually eaten during Carnival). And we still eat castradina, the dish that saved the life of half of the population in Venice during the dire months of 1631, la castradina, smoked meat from Dalmatia.
And after this feast, when the pilgrims from the mainland have left Venice, the most quiet time of the year prepares us straight for Christmas… Days get very short, the fog becomes very thick (called caígo), and Venice is taking a collective rest.
You may even find us enjoy a special chocolate drink at Caffé Florian, or at least at our usual bar. Cioccolata densa is a must these days, as much as as spicy soul food and warming soups. For San Martino, Venetians eat the traditional dish oca in onto (recipe will follow soon) and also faraona. And it’s the peak time for anyone amongst you loving pasta e fasioi, the Venetian bean soup !