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Italian Easter Dessert Table
Discover how to create a look – not to mention taste – for your party that is distinctly Italian.
by Francesca Di Meglio
A look at any party blog and you'll learn that dessert tables are all the rage at events big and small these days. Alpha moms everywhere create elaborate sweets buffet tables with themed backdrops, food labels, and desserts, of course. There is no mom more alpha than an Italian mamma. So, I thought it was time to get Italians in on the act.
Here are step-by-step instructions for building your own Italian Easter dessert table:
Step 1 – Face facts.
Realize you are Italian, so you can't get away with just having a dessert buffet and tea and coffee for your affair. It's the same reason you can never just host a cocktail party with drinks and appetizers. People – at least your people – will talk if you don't feed them real food – an actual meal or, rather two or three, along with the sweets. In other words, expect to make a nice spread of antipasto replete with salumi, bruschetta, and the like and then include a few different options for pasta and a couple of secondi, such as pork loin, prosciutto cotto, and lamb, of course. I would suggest rabbit, which is a popular dish in much of Italy, but eating the Easter bunny on Easter is just cruel. (Although I have to admit that my family has done it.) Don't forget the vino, after-dinner drinks such as limoncello, and espresso.
Step 2 – Dish out the dolce vita.
Now, you can start prepping the desserts. Southern Italians would be remiss if they left out the pastiera, which is to them what the Easter bunny is to Americans. It's a must have. It also takes 100 years to make, so you might want to buy it at your favorite Italian bakery. Another popular item is Italian Easter bread, which is braided and displays hardboiled eggs dyed with onion skin or tea. (Here in the States many use traditional Easter egg dyes for the eggs, but the Italians in Italy know nothing of that.) A spread of Italian pastries is also a nice touch, as are biscotti. Any dessert with Nutella is welcome. If you want to include candy, think chocolate. Kinder and Perugina eggs with gifts inside are popular in Italy this time of year. Italian specialty stores often carry similar eggs. And you will always be praised for sharing Ferrero Rocher and Perugina Baci chocolates.
Step 3 – Decorate like your nonna.
You'll need three tables – the two biggest ones should be for your guests and the regular buffet and the smallest one should be reserved for the desserts. To start, you need to pick table coverings for them. American moms would be throwing on expensive linens or affordable plastic table covers with bunnies or chicks on them, depending on the look of their shindig. But Italians will use their old sheets, which are often very beautiful, never match, and are oversized (which is perfect for catching the many spills and crumbs that will get scattered everywhere as family members eat and talk with verve). Pick out your nicest, least stained and torn sheets, and you'll be all set. Use cleaned, empty cans or glass bottles of crushed tomatoes or tomato puree as vases. Insert seasonal flowers, such as tulips. You can also use them to hold the biscotti, breadsticks, or utensils. Rather than bunnies and chicks, doves are the symbol of the season in Italy. Crosses would work, too.
Step 4 – Put on the final touches.
Add food labels with their authentic Italian names. You might want to share some of the more genuine recipes on cards, as well. A banner that reads, "Buona Pasqua," would be great for behind the table and setting the scene. Just make sure the table is stuffed with good stuff to eat, and yours will be a bona-fide Italian Easter dessert table.
Di Meglio is the Newlyweds Expert for About.com at newlyweds.about.com, and you can follow her life and work at the Two Worlds Web site.
Article Published 3/24/14
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