There are very few things more Italian than a Sunday lunch.
Even if habits are slowly changing nowadays, Sunday lunches are still a staple in the life on every Italian. It might not be that we have a Sunday lunch every single week, but it is still something which is quite common to do.
The most traditional Sunday lunch, or better pranzo della domenica, is the one you have at your mom’s or grandmother. If I close my eyes, I can still remember the lunches we had at my nonna‘s, back in the eighties. We would leave early on Sunday morning, dressed in our best clothes, we would drive slowly on countryside roads (eventually stopping once or twice on the way because I was car sick, but that’s another story) and then get to my grandmother’s.
If we arrived really early, we would find her making pasta, stretching out the dough and then slowly cutting tagliatelle (some kind of spaghetti) on the kitchen table. If we were late, however, the table was already set and the meat sauce was noisily boiling on the stove.
We would then sit around the table and start a lunch which would last for at least a couple of hours.
And the ending of every lunch was always a tray of paste dolci. Paste dolci, usually known simply as paste, are always part of a traditional Sunday lunch or of a special event, like a birthday or some kind of celebration.
Paste dolci is the term commonly used to describe a set of pastries which include cannoli siciliani, bignole piemontesi, sfogliatelle and many other types of sweet delicacies you see on display in bakeries. You usually go there on Sunday morning and choose the best pastries, which would then be put on a paper tray and wrapped in a pastel-colored paper (usually carrying the name of the bakery) and then secured with some kind of ribbon, which works as some sort of handle if you need to carry the tray around.
There’s nothing that feels more “Sunday” to me than seeing people coming out of a bakery with their tray of paste dolci.
I still distinctly remember when I went to the bakery with my father, on Sunday mornings. While my mom was getting ready, we were responsible for buying paste dolci to bring to my grandmother’s house. The bakery was all white, it had marble counters and the windows were full of pastries glazed with pink, light blue, and yellow sugar. My father would let me pick some of the pastries and then choose the rest according to the taste of the rest of the family.
I don’t know if this is why I still love the habit of bringing pastries so much, but going to the bakery and picking some paste dolci for a lunch is a special thing for me to do.
And that’s also probably why I love the Italian phrase “io porto le paste” so much.
Literally, it means I’ll bring the pastries, but it carries a more meaningful significance with it. The phrase tastes of Sunday lunches spent with family, of celebrations, of being together and enjoying life, sharing lovely traditions with your loved ones. It tastes of sugar, chats, laughter, and love.
And you? Is there a phrase which has the same meaning for you?
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