New Year’s Eve, Casabasciana
Too late again this year to help with the tortelli (meat-filled pasta pillows) for the New Year’s Eve village dinner. The other women have finished them by 9.15 am. New Year’s resolution: get up earlier next 31 December (hope I remember). The mark of a feast is double the number of dishes in each course. Dalida and Anna Rosa are the masterminds of village dinners and they have no trouble coming up with more than enough dishes between them. Here’s the menu that we struggle to get to the end of, but dare not omit a single one for fear we will miss the best:
Antipasti: crostini with mascherpone and walnuts, crostini with smoked Scottish salmon and lemon, Belgian endive leaves loaded with Russian salad, salami toscana, stewed lentils
Primi: crema di zucca (cream of squash soup), risotto with leeks and gamberetti (shrimp) and tortelli al ragù
Secondo: Spezzatino di maiale with olives and chestnuts (pork stew)
Torta laced with something alcoholic (see above)
Lentils symbolise money, and you must eat them on New Year’s Eve to ensure a prosperous year ahead. It must be true: on New Year’s Day a rainbow pointed to a pot of gold just below the village car park. Anna Rosa apologises that there is only one main course, but after seconds and even thirds of the tortelli, no one notices the lack. For me the risotto and spezzatino come tops, but the soup is delicately piccante and the tortelli achieve the usual high standards of Casabasciana.
A television has been rigged up in the village hall and ten seconds before midnight we join the television crowd counting down until the corks of the spumante bottles pop and we greet each other with heartfelt ‘Auguri!’ and a kiss to each cheek.