The Language of Food

Christmas in Parma

Street in Parma, Emilia Romagna Italy with Christmas lights.

Observing how Italians cook for the holidays, I am tempted to clone a new definition that I would call, “The Language of Food”.

If I were Santa Claus, on the night of December 24th, while traveling to drop gifts to all the Italian children, I would spend plenty of time looking at the tables of all their families — certainly smiling and perhaps with a bit of envy, because for everyone it’s a feast.

First off, we should observe that agriculture in Italy began 8,000 years ago and that created a kaleidoscopic food biodiversity. Food and wine are the ambassadors from those 8,000 years of history and each town carries a colorful and unique speck of this kaleidoscope.

And you may fairly say that food and wine is important in Italy, but that gets blown out of proportion during the holidays.

An Expression of Love

So, The Language of Food, if you can call it in this way, is an expression of love and attention gifted to other members of the family. Language because it’s something very complex that stems from the local traditions of each single town, therefore embracing history. 

The entire nation practically shuts down for two weeks from right before Christmas to January 6th, so food and wine for the holidays become a special treat — better than the rest of the year. The country floats on orgasmic dishes for two weeks.

Then, there is the December 24th dinner, the special within the special, a long and beautiful process, a concoction of artistry and time. It is always a “very long process.”

If you were to ask me “why does it take so long to prepare a dinner?” Well, a dinner like this can’t last less than four hours. Of course!

Going back on my memory bank, I distinctly remember my parents reserving the best produce from the local farmers a week ahead of time. “We’ve gotten the same produce from the same farmers for the last twenty years. Do you still have to call them ahead of time Dad?” — and easily a couple of days of food prepping ahead of dinner time.

Pisarelli e fagioli

In my home, we used to make “pisarelli e fagioli” a dry, homemade pasta, rolled into one’s fingers; a time consuming, Zen-like sacrifice to make, then cooked in a beans and tomato sauce with enough calories to thaw the harshest winter. That was the “must have” based on our family tradition.

Before that, there was always a long stream of appetizers. Italy is very traditional and I remember I was in awe when I got to know smoked salmon one Christmas Eve dinner. Salame, prosciutto, cheeses, anchovies, well, at least ten appetizers before the “pisarelli.” There was a roast and then, of course, the cake. Yes, we were four people, two children and two adults. Dressed up, if you are still wondering.

At the end, I don’t think it was a bunch of nonsense. It was and it still is, a way for all families to express love, attention, and a way to solidify the cradle that’s the family. I call it “The Language of Food.” 

A Gastronomic Tour in the Region of Le Marche

A Voyage for All Senses: Wine and Food Routes in Trentino

Stefano Campanini

Italian Wine Contributor

Founder of Italian Wine School, Stefano Campanini is one of the 300 Italian Wine Ambassadors representing 33 different countries, and one of the few people to hold this title in the United States. Stefano’s discerning palate was cultivated in his birthplace Parma, Emilia Romagna and he has travelled extensively in different wine regions. Stefano’s dream of sharing pleasure at the table began in 2011 when he opened Wine by the Bay. Since then, this wine store has quickly become recognized as one of South Florida’s leading Champagne and boutique wine stores and was most recently awarded Wine-Searcher Gold in Overall and French lists in Miami. “Wine is an education and not just a drink,” he’ll say while handcrafting a ‘tale of wine cities’ to both novices and aficionados alike. Follow Stefano at @WinebytheBay .

No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Build your authentic life in Italy! Live in Italy Magazine is an experiential lifestyle news site dedicated to anyone who has or will make Italy their home away from home. Read stories from expats and Italians. Named the Best Italy Magazine by Feedspot!

We feature in-depth articles and interviews covering:

  • Expat Life
  • Food & Wine
  • Travel
  • Lifestyle
  • Design, Art, & Culture
  • Real Estate, Hotels/Resorts & Long-Term Rentals

We are committed to creating great content. Please consider becoming a Sponsor by donating on Patreon

Thank you for your support!

Our Contributors:

Lisa Morales, Editor-in-Chief (Miami)
Christine Cutler, Travel Editor (St. Petersburg, FL)
Lorenzo Diamantini, Food and Wine Editor (Gubbio)
Adriana Suarez, Top 8 Editor (Miami)
Bel Woodhouse, Contributing Editor (Cozumel, Mexico)
Giulia Marchetti, Contributing Editor (Viterbo)
Angie Kordic, Visual Arts Contributing Editor (Stockholm, Sweden)
Feuza Reis, Breaking News Contributor (Miami)
Patrizia Vigolo, Contributing Wine Editor (Vicenza)
Natalia Bell. Food Contributor (Edinburgh, Scotland)
Emma Prentice (Ferrara/UK), Contributor
Justin Patulli (Ottawa, Canada), Contributing Editor
Annalucia Scotto Di Clemente (Rome), Contributing Editor
Valeria M. (Bologna), Contributor
Sandra Diaz-Velasco (Miami), Interior Design & Architecture Contributor
Carrie Convilli (Venice), Veneto Events Correspondent

Al Esper Graphic Design: Digital Edition Art Director (Tennessee)
SQLHardhat: Aaron Morales, Website Design and SEO (Miami)
Visual Popcorn: John Craven, Video Editor (Miami)
Colls Fine Art Photography: Armando Colls, Contributing Photographer (Miami)
Sabrina Negro, Translator (Piemonte)
Giulia Ferro, Subtitler EN/IT (San Michele all’Adige)


Submit Your Press Release: lisa @

Guest Contributors:

Guest Contributor applicants should have a good understanding of WordPress. Email links to recent articles along with your social media handles to: lisa @