It’s as if someone flipped a switch. All of a sudden every store has swapped their merchandise focus to chocolate. Whatever else they might have sold, the shelves have been stripped to make room for the gigantic, colorfully-wrapped eggs that are the hallmark of Easter in Italia.
I’ve told you before that in Italy it’s always all about the food. Especially holidays. Every holiday – whether major or minor – has a particular specialty item that is associated with it, and which are consumed only during that ordained period. The mimosa cake for Women’s Day, for example. Sweet ravioli for carnevale. The tasteless panettone for Christmas. And, chocolate eggs for Easter.
Naturally, I’m all over anything that involves good-quality chocolate, so seeing the pretty packages made me smile. But these are no ordinary chocolates. Forget what you have seen in the US, those bland bunnies and mass-produced little sacks of eggs. These are dramatic confections, concocted to be dazzling as well as delicious. They are hollow, but contain una sorpressa (a surprise)– often more than one. Chocolatiers will custom-craft these beauties to your specifications and to include your own special sorpressa for your loved ones. I’m told engagement rings are frequently hidden inside.And the wrappings! They go all out to create paper flowers, colorful, curly ribbons, hand-painted ceramics to rest the eggs in, tied up with colorful, curly ribbons accompanied by pretty confetti or flowers. Gorgeous.
I love walking by our local cioccolateria to gaze in their windows any time, but particularly now. Their elaborate eggs are downright inspiring. I haven’t purchased ours yet, because I know full well that we’d devour them well before Easter Day, so I’m waiting a bit. But I have my eye on a couple. They’ll make our Pasqua feast that much more special this year.
copyright 2007 Valerie Schneider