Truffles embrace dried fruit and Italy and Spain meet head on with their hors d’oeuvres. Ricciarelli is the dessert to be rediscovered.
The winter holidays are usually the time when even the most die-hard foodies among us focus on tradition. But many dishes and ingredients might be less "indigenous" than we think. Turkey, for example, the main Christmas lunch in several European countries, comes from America.
The habit of preceding lunch or dinner with cold cut meats is historically quite recent, but no less interesting: there is always space for innovation, even in this dish. This is the case with raw ham, where different traditions can intersect to propose new products. "For several years we have also added innovative products to our flagship product, San Daniele, such as Patadok, a reinterpretation of Pata Negra, which combines the cerdo Iberico Romanico from Extemadura with the Italian technical skills", explains Carlo Dall’Ava, owner of the historic Friulian producer, DOK Dall’Ava, "Or Nebrodok, which is produced in a similar way from the black pigs from Nebrodi mountains, Sicilian excellence from the highest quality meats. More recently we have reinterpreted Magaliza, the pig from the Magyar steppes with a very high oleic acid content, in an Italian way".
The festive table also often lends the opportunity to use flavours and ingredients that are less common in the everyday kitchen, such as truffles and mushrooms. "We are a company with a 170 year history, and among the world leaders in the mass production of truffles, and always focussed on product innovation. We have recently launched truffle dried fruit", underlines Stefano Ralli, Sales Director for large scale retail and retail in Italy of Urbani Tartufi. The holidays can be an occasion to try these specialities to then use at other times during the year. "We have also launched a line of ready-made sauces. Now we would like to get more involved in the world of frozen products, especially for mushrooms, and we’re going to launch three flavours of Roman-style pizzas for the younger, more trendy targets: with white truffles, mushrooms and truffles and just porcini mushrooms", adds Ralli.
Even those who have made a profession out of cooking agree that the trend for these holidays, and probably also of 2021, will be revisiting tradition. "I think that the products that will emerge are those linked to ancestral culinary memory, some that have been lost but rediscovered thanks also to how much more time we have spent in front of the cooker this year", affirms chef Cristiano Tomei. The Christmas dessert? For him it is Ricciarelli, the traditional crumbly almond biscuits from Siena. Tomei on the other hand believes that there will be less use of combinations between western ingredients and oriental sauces, such as soy sauce, ponzu, yuzu and others.
For Moreno Cedroni during the holidays and then into 2021, natural wines and quality extra virgin olive oil will be the stand out products. Quinoa, wholewheat flours and gluten-free products will also make an appearance for the holidays. "We will probably see less use of white flours, sugary drinks or vegetable fats. Furthermore, consumers will be less and less inclined to purchase products that don’t respect the environment and products full of salt, preservatives and dyes".