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Lasagne bianche ai noci: lasagne with white ragù and walnuts (recipe)

White ragù—Italian meat sauce without tomatoes—is one of my all time favourite dishes. I learnt it as a teenager from my Italian step-grandmother in her kitchen in Venice. She was noted for her ragù and people were forever asking her how she made it but, of course, she wouldn’t tell. But one summer morning while …

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Fritole venessiane: Venetian carnival fritters (recipe)

In Renaissance Venice, the period from 26 December until Ash Wednesday was one of chaos. The city was full of parties, festivals, but also of general misrule and often violence—tolerated by the authorities as a way for society to let off steam and a way to ensure good order for the rest of the year. …

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Pasta e fagioli: pasta and bean soup (recipe)

  We’ve been waking up to temperatures of about -4°C at La Madera this week, proving that the Mediterranean climate is an extreme one. So, while we wait for the return of the 38°C days we experienced last summer, it’s time for winter comfort food: and here’s some from my childhood, pasta e fagioli, or as they say …

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Quick guide to Italian ingredients: Olives

  Legend has it that two gods once competed for the patronage of an Ancient greek city, and the people decided to choose based on what gifts the gods would offer them. The sea god, Poseidon, offered them the gift of water, essential for life. The goddess Athena offered them the gift of a single …

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La befana

In Italy, Christmas comes twice a year

  Christmas comes but once a year, but it’s a little known fact that in Italy, children get two bites at the panforte. Another festival, with huge similarities to the festivities on the 25th December, occurs just twelve days later. On the night of the 5th January, Italian children hang up their stockings at the end of the …

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