It’s that festive time of year, so we want to share some of our Italian Christmas traditions with you. Marianna, who is the head of Technical and New Product Development, shares her Italian Christmas traditions and some of her favourite foodie treats for you and your family and friends this year.

Firstly, can you tell us a bit about you and where you grew up?

I grew up in Sicily by the sea with my family. They run a restaurant there so I have always had a real love of good food. My passion for everything food-related has driven my career and that’s why I love working at Sacla’. I can’t believe I’ve been here for 11 years now!

Can you tell us about your favourite foodie traditions at Christmas?

There is no such thing as Italian food – the food of Italy is the cooking of its regions, and so each region and family will have different traditions. In the south, fish is eaten on Christmas Eve, which is the biggest meal around the festive season for most Italians.  In my family we always have fried Baccala’ (salted cod) or seafood risotto. After Midnight Mass, we come back and celebrate with a big slice of Panettone and a glass of Spumante, a sweet sparkling wine made in Asti – home of our Sacla’ kitchens (we don’t always drink Prosecco by the way). There is an enchanting patisserie called Fiasconaro in a town called Castel Buono, near where my family lives, which make the best Panettone. Our favourite flavours are pasticPanettonecio cream, berries and hazelnut cream. Follow the link to find out more about this enchanting patisserie. http://www.fiasconaro.com/en/prodotti/catalogo/christmas/

On Christmas Day, our lunch starts with a glass of Nero D’Avola (Sicilian red wine) and a selection of aged Provola cheese and locally sourced salami. Then we have ‘tortellini in brodo’ (tortellini in chicken broth) with plenty of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese grated on top. For the main course we have a real tradition – chicken stuffed with rice, apple and chestnuts with roasted carrots and potatoes on the side. A dessert called Bucellato follows, a ring-shaped shortbread cake filled with dried figs, raisins, candied fruits, nuts and chocolate decorated with candied cherries and pistachios.

Although I live in England now, I still love to celebrate with delicious Italian ingredients. On Christmas morniTruffle eggng, my family and I will have scrambled eggs with Truffle Pesto for breakfast – it’s luxurious and warming on a cold Winter’s day. Follow the link to find out how you can make this treat on Christmas morning with Sacla’ Truffle Pesto. http://www.sacla.co.uk/recipes/something-special/truffle-pesto-scrambled-eggs/

What other Italian traditions do you have around Christmas time?

One of the most special traditions for me is creating a small nativity scene in the house. This is a typical activity around Christmas for Italians, and children help to get all the materials together. I have fond memories of going into the countryside with my cousins when I was a child to find moss and pieces of wood for the nativity characters to stand on. I now do this with my little boy and I hope it’s an Italian Christmas tradition he will continue.