Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Legend of Bûche de Noël ...

My favorite Tuscan dessert to share during the holidays ... 
Biscotti and Vin Santo !
Biscotti in Italian means twice (bis) cooked (cotto).  They are cookies that are first baked into a log, then sliced and toasted. They are tooth-breaking crunchy, studded with almonds and perfect for dipping into the local sweet wine Vin Santo, holy wine.

 Besides Thanksgiving, Christmas is the only other time of the year where it’s perfectly fine for people around the world to overindulge. There are so many delicious Christmas foods and desserts to choose from ...

Bûche de Noël or Yule Log is a traditional cake shaped like a log served during the Christmas holiday season. This tradition goes back the 12th century and could be found in most European countries, including 
France and Italy, Belgium, "YES" Québec, 
and some other regions and countries, 
up to the end of the 19th century.
 Its origin can be traced back to the ancient Celtic tradition of burning a large log to celebrate the rebirth of the sun on the shortest day of the year.

This contemporary version of Bûche de Noël is the perfect opportunity to make something extra festive for Christmas. It was a celebration of the fire, so vital during those cold winter months. On Christmas Eve, a big log of hard wood would be brought back to the home with ceremony, would be placed into the fireplace and sprinkled with oil, salt and mulled wine while prayers were said. The log was then lit with firebrands from the previous year’s log. The log’s ashes were said to protect the home from the evil and thunderbolt. The tradition died out when fireplaces were replaced with cast iron stoves, and smaller logs were then placed on the tables at Christmas as decorations. A classic French dessert, Bûche de Noël is a delicious confection of chocolate cake and rich pastry cream rolled into the shape of a log. The cake symbolizes the belief that a large log should burn continuously on Christmas night. If it goes out, it means bad luck in the coming year. The next morning, the ashes from the log are scooped up and kept as a good luck charm to heal sickness, bring on needed rain, and guarantee success in business.

Ask your children two questions this Christmas. 
First: "What do you want to give to others for Christmas?" Second: "What do you want for Christmas?" 
The first fosters generosity of heart and an outward focus. 
The second can breed selfishness if not tempered by the first.

Sing hey!  Sing hey!
For Christmas Day;
Twine mistletoe and holly.
For a friendship glows
In winter snows,
And so let's all be jolly!

Non nascondere
            il segreto del tuo cuore,
                      amico mio!
                               Dillo a me, solo a me,
                                               in confidenza.
Tu che sorridi così gentilmente,
                                    dimmelo piano,
                                            il mio cuore lo ascolterà,
                                                           non le mie orecchie.
La notte è profonda,
                    la casa silenziosa,
                                 i nidi degli uccelli
                                                  tacciono nel sonno.
                                                                                      Rivelami tra le lacrime esitanti,
                                                                         tra sorrisi tremanti,
                                              tra dolore e dolce vergogna,
                            il segreto del tuo cuore.
R. Tagore