I’m nominating the city of Florence, Italy for the most imaginative use of Christmas lights. Last year the south end of Via Tornabuoni was lined with illuminated olive trees. Each tree was encircled with a wire cage and covered with sheer white fabric and lit from below. The effect was nothing of short of awesome.
This year’s F.Light, (Firenze Lighting Festival) will illuminate some of the architectural icons of the city during the Christmas season. Curtains of sparkling lights, 3-D video projections and a digital mosaic will create a spectacular view of the city with innovative lighting technologies designed to dazzle.
Pizzelle are traditional Italian waffle cookies whose basic recipe has changed little over the years. A batter-like dough made with eggs, flour, sugar and butter or oil together with flavor extracts (anise being the most common) is poured into an electric or stove-top iron. The pattern of the iron is stamped onto both sides resulting in a thin, delicate cookie with a crisp texture.
The traditional anise flavored pizzelle now includes almond, hazelnut and chocolate as well as some unusual flavor combinations like jalapeno, banana, butter rum, candy corn, carrot cake, gingerbread, key lime and snicker doodle. Not the pizzelle of our Nonna to be sure. The culinary creativity of pizzelle flavors may make Italian grandmothers exclaim “o mio dio” but the traditional patterns of pizzelle irons remain constant. Like snowflakes there are slight variations but most take their design from ancient molds and family crests. I finally retired my Auntie Anne’s Palmer pizzelle iron (circa 1950’s) last year in favor of a new non-stick Cuisinart but I don’t see myself making pina colada pizzelle anytime soon.