Tradition reigns for Pranzo di Natale.

The Tuscan feast begins with Crostini Neri and other assorted crostini, or Affettati Toscani Misti. The delicious crostini neri, or fegatini di pollo, is made from chicken liver and a mixture of herbs, olive oil, capers and other wonderful ingredients. It is traditionally on the Tuscan table for the many feasts of Christmas time in Tuscany.

Tortellini in Brodo, another tradition of the Tuscan celebration on Christmas day, is a labor of love. The hundreds of tortellini are made by hand by weeks ahead, filled with savory meats and then floated in a traditional beef broth.

The star of the meal for the Christmas lunch is the Roast Meat, often it is Capon, or Pork, or Galantina, a deboned, stuffed poultry or fish that is poached and served cold. Roasted potatoes and other vegetables will accompany the meats course.

If the Roast Meat is the King of the Pranzo di Natale, then Panettone, or Torte di Natale, is the Queen. Panettone is a yeast cake filled with currants, candied citrus and sometimes chocolate and nuts. It is the star of the dessert table, and always present for Christmas Day. If you are very lucky, the tradition of panettone will continue into the New Year, bringing with it the base of many good recipes to enjoy throughout the winter season. The incredible Panettone is only one sweet ending of the Pranzo di Natale; the table will most likely also include Torrone, an almond-filled nougat, and Dolci Natalizi, assorted Christmas cookies that make an appearance only at this special time of year.

Christmas is a special time around the world, but Tuscany’s time-honored traditions and natural beauty create a particularly memorable sort of magic…a magic that should be experienced by everyone at least once. Merry Christmas! Buon Natale!