Now, what does it look like going for a walk on the last day of the year? Just like I’m describing in this blog post, we were lucky to enjoy pearl blue skies in Venice. And if you cross Campo San Zaccaria, and walk out onto the Riva, this is what you can see .. just blinding sun rays and glittering waters when you direct your camera against the sun.
Above you can see a recipe, from grandmother’s collections, for making the traditional New Year’s Eve cake, which we love to eat for breakfast. Call it a treat from the terraferma, just north of the Lagoon, where grandmother grew up before and during WW2. She can still remember those quiet days preceding the Venetian Christmas, which we celebrate on January 6. Of course, there was also a quiet Christmas celebrated on 24 December, according to Catholic rites, and another quiet New Year’s Eve.
So, what we are eating on New Year’s Eve is essentially a brunch. It starts with the sweet polenta cake called pinza, or pinsa in Venet, which we also ate on 24 December, and will eat again in the morning of 6 January. That’s three times the same breakfast, consisting of the pinsa, freshly baked in the oven, and glazed, if you’re like me, with a few spoonfuls of mulberry jam.
We love mulberry jam, by the way. Mulberries epitomize the Venetian terraferma (countryside), and it was their leaves that the silk worms were devouring in the past. The Republic of Venice fostered the silk fashion industry, and that’s why there are still many wild mulberry trees on the fringes of the Lagoon, and in the Veneto. When grandmother was young, she made mulberry jam for the family. In Venice and the Lagoon, there aren’t many of these trees, though. And of course, there’s none in the garden, so for the time being, I don’t have the ingredients to make this jam myself. Did you know that Venice in the past was famous for fashion and home decor as well, producing luxurious clothes, curtains, and table accessories made from silk? If you’d like to read more, here’s a nice article on the silkmaker’s of the Veneto, by Reuters.
The second favorite winter jam, that we sometimes eat with our pinsa, is pomegranate jam! Yes, this is made from freshly pressed pomegranate juice (actually a nuisance to press out …), slices of apple, spices, cane sugar, and lemon juice to add a tangy zest. So now, take a look at la pinsa, freshly baked.
We have the recipe for pinsa on the blog, click here to see it!
Sometimes, we love flavoring pinsa with mulberry jam: we would put a few teaspoons jam on top of the cake and bake it in the oven. The piece of pinsa you can see above is flavored with sultanas, pinoli (pine nuts), grated orange peel, and a bit of grappa. And of course, the ever-present vanilla essence goes into the cake :-)
So, this is our warm breakfast, eaten in the early morning (grandmother), and later (the rest of the family). And so it happens that leftovers (if there are any ..) are eaten for lunch as well. In former times, grandmother tells, the cake was left on the fogolar (a special type of oven popular in the Veneto in the past), so it would still be warm at noon.
For lunch on New Year’s Eve, Venetians of the northern Lagoon also love eating a warm lentils salad. Yes, there are different festive dishes in the area around Mestre or Mira, or in the southern Lagoon. It shows just how colorful our culinary heritage is. In the northern Lagoon, as grandmother tells me, winter meant that people would look out for ancestral food, for a purpose.. So, with the lentils salad came wild chicory and radicchio leaves (which actually don’t look really purple-red, but rather green). The lentils salad comes flavored with spices, white onions fried in olive oil, a few tablespoons of cream, and the salad leaves, also fried in olive oil.
These are our traditional dishes, rather simple, for New Year’s Eve, similar to those we ate on 24 December. But of course, restaurants in Venice offer delightful treats for tonight, and you can take a look, and at our restaurant recommendations, in this blog post.
Next comes a walk under the star-studded arcades around San Marco … Click here to see all our posts filed under Essenza di Natale a Venezia, our blog series on how we celebrate the Venetian Christmas and New Year.