Traditional Sunday Lunch in Santo Stefano, Abruzzo

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As many of my readers know I am in love with Italian food. I can talk for hours about Italian recipes, local specialties and good restaurants. Discovering a new ingredient makes me happy, being invited for lunch in a local family sends me into ecstasy! So, when my friend Novelia invited me to join her for Sunday lunch in a friend’s house in the stunning medieval village of Santo Stefano, Abruzzo, I felt on top of the world and very Italian.

I have read that 52% of Italian families still sit at the table every Sunday to eat the same style large meal as half a century ago: numerous starters, pasta, meat, potatoes or vegetables and a dessert (normally, a cake), so I had a light breakfast and no plans for dinner.

lunch3Amalia and her mother, Aida, welcomed me as an old friend and warned that there will be a lot of food, as usual. The 88 years old Aida was dressed up and busy in the kitchen, finishing her famous lentil soup. After a chat in the kichen and a short walk in the village we sat down to enjoy the feast. The food started arriving on the table: starters, home-made pasta, soups, chicken, meatballs, salads, a sponge cake.

italian foodAida’s soup was made with local lentils that the area around Santo Stefano is famous for. Then there was tagliatelle pasta made with duck eggs and a creamy sauce of radicchio. Amalia cooked a delicious dish with sweet red peppers in a tomato sauce. She said that in old days poor villagers would make a large pot to last for a few days, and served dollops of it over slices of bread.

italy traditions

Sunday lunch is never rushed. We ate slowly, savoured local red wine and talked at length about food, old recipes and little tricks that women in the village had to come up with to feed big families on a tiny budget. To finish the meal the local tradition calls for an amaro, a bitter liquor to help the digestion. We had a few sips of genziana, a bitter-sweet concoction made with roots of a rare plant that grows here in the mountains.

italian foodAmalia told me the story of the house, which was built by her aunt. The aunt never married but she the house was always full of people as she rented rooms out. The house has been lovingly renovated and continues to welcome guests, who come to visit this beautiful part of Abruzzo. Aida is happy to share her knowledge and teaches guests how to prepare local dishes. And every Sunday she dons an apron and with the help of Amalia energetically serves delicious traditional lunches for the family and friends.

9 Comments

  1. karenincalabria on

    What a lovely presentation of the Sunday dinner! I don’t know what your heritage is, but you sound like you belong in Italy, where in my experience, it’s perfectly normal to talk for hours about food – what you had for lunch yesterday and what you’re planning on having tomorrow and the day after…
    Nothing like a great bowl of lentil soup to warm the cockles!

    • Thank you for the lovely comment, Karen! When it comes to food I certainly feel Italian! I can talk passionately about traditional Italian dishes for hours and am certainly prepared to devote my entire life to eating them.

  2. karenincalabria on

    Sounds like not only an excellent pastime, but a great primetime as well! I lived in Calabria for four years, just published a book about the region (entitled Calabria: The Other Italy) and started a blog. Without actually “focusing” on food, I realized there was food throughout my book and half my blogs posts are about food. So it would seem, we’re members of the same club!

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