La Pasqua Napoletana

La Pastiera Napoletana

La Pastiera Napoletana

Pasca vo’ ‘a menestrella mmaretata
cu ‘a gallenella, ‘a ‘nnoglia e ‘e saciccielle,
‘ll’ainìello a ‘o furno, ‘o ppoco ‘e spezzatiello.
‘a felluccia ‘e ricotta e e’ supressata.
Quatt’ova toste na cimm’ ‘e nzalata,
Na carcioffola e ‘o fiasco ‘e marainiello;
Po’, se sape, ‘a pastiera, ‘o casatiello,
‘a pres ‘e roce e na pres arraggiata.

G. Fico

Easter cries for a soup in which wedded are
hen, nnoglia (a cold cut made with cuttings), and sausage;
roast lamb and a bit of stew;
A slice of ricotta and one of soprassata;
Four hard-boiled eggs and a head of salad;
An artichoke and a flask of Maraniello wine;
And, of course, pastiera and casatiello;
A shot of liqueur sweet and a shot fiery.

Natale con i tuoi, la Pasqua con chi vuoi,  “Christmas at home and Easter with whomever you wish,” is an old Italian saying. However, people have a way of returning to the hearth, and Easter is an occasion for far-flung families to reunite around a well set table, renewing the bonds that tie. As is the case with most other holidays, there is considerable variation in how it’s celebrated from region to region. A Neapolitan family would have, in the past, celebrated with the recipes below (among other things). Nowadays the Minstra di Pasqua might be substituted by something lighter, for example freshly made broth with tagliolini (noodles similar to tagliatelle but about an eighth of an inch across). Lamb remains a fixture, however, as does the Pastiera Napoletana.

According to Caròla Francesconi, author of La Cucina Napoletana, Neapolitans have only recently begun to begin meals with antipasti. Thus, while today you would be presented with them (they’re discussed below), in the past you would likely have begun directly soup, followed by one or more of:

Minestra di Pasqua: The traditional beginning of the Neapolitan Easter meal
Capretto o Agnello al Forno: Roast Kid or Goat
Capretto Cacio e Uova: Kid stewed with cheese, peas & eggs
Carciofi e Patate Soffritti: Sauteed artichokes with baby potatoes.
Carciofi Fritti: Fried Artichokes
La Pastiera Napoletana: The classic Neapolitan grain pie

Finally, a few observations on modern Easter celebrations. You will want antipasti — finely sliced cold cuts such as salami, prosciutto, coppa, and finocchiona, or, if you’d rather avoid pork, bresaola, which is cured beef or horse (one has to ask for the latter). While the pork cold cuts are just served sliced, bresaola requires preparation: Lay the slices on a platter and drizzle them with the juice of a half a lemon and an equivalent volume of good extravirgin olive oil, mixed together. In addition, you may want sottoli or sottoaceti, baby onions, carrots, artichoke hearts, mushrooms and a variety of other vegetables packed in oil or pickled (check your Italian delicatessen), or an antipastino di mare (seafood antipasto; again, check your local Italian delicatessen).

Second, as an alternative cake come the end of the meal, you might want a Colomba, which is made using the same dough used for panettone, but in the shape of a dove. Italians generally buy them.

And last, don’t forget the chocolate eggs for the children! With surprises of course. Time was parents would slip furtively to their favorite pastry shop with the surprise to be inserted into the egg; now every candy company floods the market with chocolate Easter eggs in a variety of sizes at this time of year. Easier, yes, but something is lost.

Buona Pasqua!
Kyle Phillips

A note on the recipes: These are all traditional Neapolitan recipes, though some, for example the roast lamb or the fried artichokes, are common to much of the southern half of the Peninsula. I translated the versions Caròla Francesconi gathered for her wonderful and impressively comprehensive La Cucina Napoletana.

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Categories: Campanian and Neapolitan Recipes, Ricette Campane e Napoletane, Holiday dishes

Author:Cosa Bolle in Pentola

Italy boasts an astonishing number of varietals, denominations, and wines, and tremendous changes are sweeping the land. New wines are being created, new DOCs are being introduced, and the existing denominations are overhauling their regulations both to reflect the practices adopted by their member wineries and to favor improvements in quality. Even the most staid and stolid region can flower seemingly overnight, emerging with exciting new wines and wineries that require rewriting the enological maps and rethinking one's positions. And, of course, recipes too, because cuisine and wine are closely intertwined and it's difficult to imagine one without the other.

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One Comment on “La Pasqua Napoletana”

  1. March 25, 2013 at 10:47 am #

    My father is from Naples and we always had Casatielle and artichokes at Easter. I love Naples: the food, the people, the music, the sounds, smells, are all so…..well …Neapolitan! I am going back next month and I can’t wait.

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