I’ve only attended one Italian wedding and it was a feast for the eyes and the appetite. The tables were lavishly decorated, with candied almonds at each place. Dinner was a production and lasted for hours. During dinner, guests paid money to dance with the bride, a stunning, smiling blonde.
This custom goes back centuries. Apparently the donations helped to defray the cost of the wedding. Dancing with the bride was also fun.
According to “Italian Weddings — Customs and Traditions, Past and Present,” an article on the Hudson Valley Weddings website, many modern weddings are continuing the custom. Cash and checks are deposited in the bride’s satin bag. Food is the main focus, a psychological link between family and guests. The many courses symbolize good luck.
I don’t remember all of the courses that were served at the wedding I attended, but I think the first was antipasto, followed by soup, pasta, the main course, and wedding cake.
Anita Logan discusses wedding customs in her article, “Traditional Italian Wedding,” which is posted on the Life in Italy website. She says the antipasto course may include stuffed calamari and proscuitto. This course may also include a variety of cheeses, olives, and peppers. Successive courses include pasta, soup, salads, meats and fruits. “No one goes home hungry,” she declares, and “most people feel as if they might burst.”
Wedding soup is a common course. You can buy canned soup at the store, but I think it tastes manufactured and not homemade. The ingredients are simple: small meat balls, chicken broth, fresh spinach, diced carrots, tiny pasta and Parmesan cheese. I make tiny meatballs, about the size of a nickel, which cook quickly and are fun to eat. You can make smaller ones if you wish.
Kids will enjoy rolling meatballs and will eat the soup if they helped make it. You don’t need to attend an Italian wedding to enjoy this classic recipe. Serve the soup with crusty bread and a glass of wine and you’ll feel like you’re at a party. This soup tastes even better the next day.
1 pound 90% lean ground beef
1 large egg
1/4 cup egg substitute
1/4 cup Italian bread crumbs
3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 tablespoon onion powder
2 1/2 quarts reduced sodium chicken stock
2 cups fresh spinach, thinly sliced
3/4 cup diced carrots
1 cup tubetti (little tubes) pasta
Combine ground beef, egg, egg substitute, bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, basil, and onion powder in a bowl. Shape into small meatballs. Pour chicken stock into soup kettle. Add meatballs, spinach carrots and tubetti. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer on low for 10-15 minutes, or until the meatballs are done and the pasta is al dente. Cut open a meatball and make sure the inside is no longer pink and cooked through. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle generously with Parmesan cheese. Makes 8-10 servings.
Copyright 2010 by Harriet Hodgson