My Grandmother's Italian Cooking Is What Brings My Family Together — Even When We're Apart

Dec 21, 2018 303


On Christmas Eve this year, like every other year, my family will start with the clam dip fresh out of the oven. As the clam dip cools down there's the "pizza" (really just bread with stuff on it) and some salami to snack on, as well as two plates of zeppole (one stuffed with chocolate, one with anchovies — pick carefully). Around 3 p.m. we'll get to the dinner table and start in on the manicotti, with an extra saucer of tomato sauce so you can personalize it, of course. Then there's the potato croquettes, the lamb, the fish, and, finally, the cream puffs, tiramisu, struffoli, and ubiquitous panettone.

Last year, my aunt couldn't make it up from her new-ish home in North Carolina to our house in New Jersey, so I took notes as my grandma — my nonna — made the dip, and then I emailed my aunt the recipe so she could make it a couple hundred miles away. No matter where we are, no matter who's around the table, for my family, Christmas Eve starts with clam dip.

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