Feasting and the consumption of indulgent foods is one of the ways that all of the world’s major religions celebrate their main festivals. At this time of the year, the religious and cultural focal point in many countries and cultures is Christmas celebrations. In the UK, some of the main foods associated with this festive time of the year are mince pies, roast Turkey with trimmings, and rich fruity Christmas pudding.
London, as a cultural melting pot, is quite unique as many Christmas cultural practices and food traditions co-exist and increase the culinary diversity of our great city. For example, the French indulge in a decadent feast known as Le Réveillon on Christmas Eve, and Stollen and Lebkuchen are baked sweet treats that are enjoyed by Germans.
Since Italian food is one of my favourite kinds of cuisine, I visited family-owned restaurant and delicatessen, Valentina, to learn about how Italians celebrate Christmas. Valentina was founded in East Sheen in 1991 as a purveyor of fine quality Italian food and wine. In the past 20 years, it has expanded into 5 branches across London that are run by the Zoccola and Arcari families. Fabio Arcari, from the Putney branch, told me more about Valentina’s as well as about Italian festive food. You can hear the interview in full by clicking on the play button below.