I dolci calabresi

The traditional Italian sweets that my mother and grandmother make are a big part of my Christmas past and present. A couple of years ago I ran across this page [2007 update: original page gone, switched to archive version] that describes most of what my family makes. Our mustazzuoli are S-shaped, rather than the rectangles shown or the other “forme tradizionale” mentioned in the recipe. Pitta ‘mpigliata is not in the family tradition, but we do have pizelle-like press cookies (known only as “French cookies” to me) to round out the selection. Interestingly, the French cookies might be something that came to my Italian family through Balkan immigrants who also settled in southeastern Kansas. See the Little Balkans recipes section on www.armakansas.org.
These things are more than just Christmas food for me, they’re ties to my not-so-distant immigrant roots. No matter where I go, these seemingly little things remind me of where I came from.