Easter Monday in Italy
Easter Monday, also known as La Pasquetta in Italy is a very big part of the Italian Easter celebration. The day is celebrated by visiting friends, going on picnics or taking a short one-day holiday out of the city. It is a festive but also a rather meaningful day because this day commemorates the day, as mentioned in the bible, the risen Savior, Jesus, met with his disciples to fulfill His prophecy. Many will celebrate by going to Mass to start the day, but the latter part will be devoted to family, friends, food, and fun.
A typical Italian dinner will usually include lamb as it symbolizes sacrifice, and this symbolism runs ages deep. In Tuscany where my Father was born and where I still have relatives in a splendid little hamlet, Montefollonico, they might enjoy the lamb alla cacciatori along with a pasta, (I would surely vote for Pici), boiled eggs, Pastiera or Pizza Rustica followed by Colomba enjoyed with a glass of their homemade Vin Santo. Chocolate eggs are a big tradition and are generally given to the little ones. After dinner, the little ones might be offered a treat with a walk to the local gelateria for their favorite scoop. But on Tuesday, for most of Italy it is business as usual.
A traditional Toscano rustic pasta.
9 Oz wheat flour
5 fl oz water
2 Tb extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp salt
Pile the flour into a mound on a large pastry board and make a well in the center where you will quickly stir in the water, oil, egg and salt either with a fork or using your hand. Work from the center outwards to incorporate all the flour and then knead into a smooth dough.
Roll the dough out into a rectangle about 11/4-in in depth and 6-inches long. On a well-floured pastry board cut a strip ½-inch wide, hold one end firmly in your left hand and with the flat of your right hand roll the end back and forth, stretching it as you go to obtain a “spaghetti” which is long, thin and even as possible. You can give the strand a little twist after stretching. Dredge the rolled out pici in plenty of flour and leave to dry on a floured pastry board in a cool place.
Cook in plenty of salted water until al dente and then drain in a colander. Toss in olive oil. Transfer to warm soup bowls and garnish liberally with finely chopped basil.
NOTE: The classic way to enjoy Pici is by topping it with breadcrumbs that have been fried to a good crisp in butter and olive oil with a pinch of salt and a pinch of garlic.