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Italian American Thanksgiving

As the holiday approaches this week, we would like to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is, of course, an American holiday, but the traditions of the day remind me very much of life in Italy.  A day to spend together cooking, eating, laughing, reminiscing, and enjoying time spent with the ones we love.

Italians in general spend more time gathered around the table than we do.  Meals are lingered over and never rushed.  Ingredients are quality and fresh for the season.  Much like our Thanksgiving! 

In Italy they say, La Festa di Ringraziamento, and the Italian calendar is full of days of gratitude to remember and celebrate different Saints with special meals, festivals, and processions. 

That must have made Thanksgiving Day one American tradition that was natural for Italian families immigrating to the States around the turn of the century. 

I live in Tampa, Florida, and shortly after moving here several years ago, my husband and I discovered a beautiful building with an Italian flag hanging outside.  We soon learned it was the Italian Club of Tampa, also called, L’Unione Italiana. 

Today’s building was completed in 1918, but the origins of the club date back to the late 1800s, when it was established to care for Italian immigrants and their families.  Cultural, educational, financial, and even medical aid were available here for people trying to make a life in a new country. 

The culture still lives today in the proud descendants and newcomers like my husband and me.  We constantly hear from our friends whose families came to the US from Italy that they are sad they did not grow up speaking Italian, but they understand it was because their parents and grandparents wanted so badly for their families to integrate into American society.

What did survive though?  Plenty!  The traditions, the recipes, and a passion for their heritage has now inspired many of these descendants to learn Italian and go back to visit their ancestors’ homeland.

Our friends in Tampa are like many descendants of Italian immigrants, whose families wanted nothing more than to be embraced and accepted into American culture. 

Thanksgiving was one way Italian families could unite and shine, doing what they do best: preparing and enjoying meals with the ones they loved.

Today’s Italian Americans can be found mixing in a dash of Italy to their American traditions.  A drizzle of olive oil in one dish, a pasta recipe more authentic than the common Thanksgiving macaroni and cheese.  An espresso after the meal.   

If you’d like to “Italianize” your Thanksgiving this year, here are a few ideas!

Instead of traditional, “mac and cheese”, try a delicious artisanal pasta and a simple, but authentic cheese sauce like Cacio e Pepe.  (see our blog for instructions).  We recommend Mia Emilia’s Filini Egg Pasta.  Or mix in some pumpkin and mushrooms for a fabulous fall pasta dish.  Try Mia Emilia’s Pappardelle for this!

For a delicious and healthy addition to your stuffing, drizzle over a spicy, Tuscan Olive Oil like Mia Emilia’s Dievole Chianti Classico DOP Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

For a light finish to combat the post-turkey-tiredness, brew some of Mia Emilia’s deliciously rich Caffe EDOR coffee from Naples.  It pairs beautifully with the Di Iorio Biscotti, made in the same Southern-Italian region of Campania.

Whatever you serve this year, Mia Emilia wishes you a Happy Thanksgiving! 

Be sure to check your email Thursday night for a sweet, special treat!  If you haven’t signed up for our emails yet, it’s not too late!