For weeks they were the pride of the aisles! Front stage center, there was no doubt about who played the lead in Italy’s pre-Christmas grocery store merchandise drama.
Cotechini, zamponi, torroni, pandori, panettoni, spumante… such is the currency of the holidays around these parts. No encounter, visit, or formal best wishes are made, dinners had, or debts of gratitude (or guilt) settled without one of the above listed items exchanging hands with great effusions of cheer on both parts. (“Oooh, how nice, thank you! Look honey, they brought us a panettone! Go put it on the balcony with the other 42 we’ve received so far!”)
Even better if the offering consists of many of the above-mentioned foods/sweets packaged together! Do you remember that game Battleship you played as a kid? Giving the ever-popular Cesto Natalizio (Christmas basket), a veritable horn of Christmas delicacy plenty, is the equivalent of striking and sinking your opponent’s aircraft carrier in one go. A master-move if there ever was one!
But now that the holidays are over? Where are the mighty now? What fate in store for them?
Have they been carefully packaged away to be pulled out next year? Hardly! (Although the shelf-life of commercial pandoro is up there with some radioactive elements. And the panforte – a sort of petrified nut fossil patty that doubles as a weapon when thrown like a frisbee, ask my sister – is the one exception that will likely get packed away; it’s probably from a few years ago anyhow, nobody buys that stuff even before Christmas.) As for the rest? Alas, it’s not meant to be! Instead, how the high are made low!! The great, small!
Their fate is apparent the moment you return to the grocery store for the first time (breaking your new year’s resolution to never eat again). There they are… pandori stacked ingloriously besides the cereal. The horror!
Cotechini unceremoniously lined up, their sad fate to expire into the cheese bins…
Panettoni shoved without respect between the frozen food freezers and the rack of house slippers. (!?).
The late, great Cesti Natalizi, made a mockery of and marked down to 4.99…
Torroni any cheaper and the clerks would have to throw them at you to get them off the shelves… all are punish’d.
Dare we utter the words? Alas, ’tis true. The curtain has dropped, the play is done. They are now mere avanzi natalizi (Christmas leftovers).