Although Thanksgiving is uniquely an American holiday nearly every continent has some version in their own culture though not celebrated necessarily in November. These Thanksgiving events usually are a celebration of harvest.
Italy, with its American influence because of the number of expats living there, finds itself in many areas awkwardly scrambling to celebrate Thanksgiving. Finding a turkey, “tacchino” in Italy is, at best, troublesome. You just can’t go to your local butcher or “macellaio”. It is not always that easy. They usually have to be special ordered. A chicken, yes, turkey, rare. Now for the pumpkin pie! Unless you have grown your own pumpkins just try to find a can of pumpkin puree! Potatoes, sweet or mashed “pure’ di patate” and green beans “fagiolini” are a snap.
Pecan pie another mystery as pecans are very difficult to find in Italy. So too, you can probably check cranberry sauce off your list. However, if they are fortunate to be invited to the table of Italian neighbors, they just might enjoy Ravioli la Zucca (squash ravioli) or rabbit stew! Maybe even Cappelletti in Brodo (cappelletti in broth) and Spongata a spiced nut tart for dessert. If they are in Tuscana, dessert will be enjoyed with a little glass of Vin Santo and also, Cantucci. In Italy,Thanksgiving is really just a typical work day for Italians but many will get together with American friends at mealtime and enjoy a little celebration.
Now just an interesting side note; corn on the cob is never eaten in Italy but only grown for the animals!
However, those celebrating will find a way to improvise and the main concern is for family and friends to be together to celebrate and give thanks.
Following is a simple little sweet that you may enjoy with your morning coffee before your Thanksgiving festivities begin.
Sicilian Orange Bundt Cake
This light cake is something Sicilian grandmothers often serve in the afternoon or even for breakfast. For a tender cake with a light texture, be careful not to overmix the flour into the batter.
SERVING : 12
- 2 cups all-purpose flour (about 8 1/2 ounces), plus more for pan
- 2 tablespoons grated orange zest plus 1 1/4 cups fresh orange juice (from 3 oranges), divided
- 1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil, plus more for greasing pan
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Stir together flour, orange zest, and baking powder in a medium bowl. Set aside.
- Beat sugar, vegetable oil, and eggs with an electric mixer on high speed until almost white, about 1 minute and 30 seconds.
- Add orange juice; beat on low speed until combined, about 20 seconds.
- With mixer running on low speed, gradually add flour mixture. Beat until just combined, about 1 minute (do not overmix).
- Transfer batter to a greased (with vegetable oil) and floured 9-inch tube or Bundt pan.
- Bake in preheated oven until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool in pan 10 minutes.
- Invert cake onto a wire rack; let cool completely, about 1 hour.
Cake can be made up to 3 days in advance and stored in an airtight container at room temperature.