Sunday, April 19, 2009
I recently came into a small fortune: six panettones. Traditionally eaten at Christmas, the fluffy bread is made from an egg-rich dough studded with candied peel, citron, and raisins. When I was a kid, we had panettone every Christmas morning--it made the wait for gifts (not before breakfast!) much more palatable. A few years back I was in Italy around New Years, and all the cafes and hotels were serving it. I imagine they had to use up their Christmas supply. My favorite was the dessert I had in Venice: a chunk of panettone with zabaglione poured on top.
I suppose there are plenty of people who dislike it, and would consider my good fortune anything but. For some people, the presence of candied fruit or peel--no matter how well-made--is a deal breaker. Why, I even understand that there are people who hate fruitcake (that's food for thought on another post)!
I feel quite differently. If I were to make my own list of the wonders of the world, panettone would be there (it's a long list, the world is full of wonders). It's a wonder because it seems never to spoil, and yet it has no preservatives. Carol Field, in her book The Italian Baker suggests this is due to the natural yeast used in its production.
Whatever the reason, a well-made panettone in your pantry is a fine thing indeed. Just knowing that I have it there, ready to pull out for a Sunday morning breakfast with friends, or to accompany tea when someone drops by, makes me happy. Never mind that I will most likely eat through this (and Pavel will help) in the next couple weeks.
We'd planned all sorts of accomplishments for the weekend, not least getting the garden weeded and finally planted (I'm sure we're the last people in Portland to plant). The panettone has derailed us. As I said to our panettone benefactor yesterday, "We don't have time to go to the farmer's market today...we have a lot of panettone to eat."
One down, five to go (one's already in the pantry, I swear!)...