Take A Seat At My Dinner Table: Italian Heritage Edition


Kyra Higbie, Contributing Writer

Italians are known for traditions and my family is no exception when it comes to the holidays. While being Italian myself, I am going to give a sneak-peak into a traditional Italian, Higbie family Christmas. I will be including some of the elements included in a classic Christmas eve and Christmas dinner with a recipe to follow for readers to try on their own.

A classic Italian Christmas eve consists of little to no meat with instead, a focus on seafood. It’s a feast consisting of delicacies such as: octopus, calamari, tuna, spaghetti with clam sauce and of course, mussels, with touches of pasta and chicken for those who don’t prefer fish. The day has stepped away from a traditional family meal and into an intimate and grand feast.

For traditional Italians the difference between Christmas eve and Christmas day is that there is usually a large gathering on Christmas eve and Christmas day is usually a much smaller affair. A staple dish that is usually found on my family’s dinner table on Christmas eve is antipasto–a cold salad of meat, cheese, and charcuterie elements. For desserts, guests in my home can find a decadent array of tiramisu, cakes, chocolate dipped cookies, and cannoli’s paired with wine, Sambuca, and coffee.

The food is set with the usual saying in Italian, “mangia, mangia!” This saying means quite literally, eat up and this saying sums up the idea that no matter how old you are, Italians love to encourage everyone to enjoy the food and to eat heaping amounts of it. And with that, the night begins..

I sat down with Linda Simon who discussed her favorite recipes on Christmas eve saying, “I love the day (Christmas eve) the whole family gets together and spends all day cooking, baking, and preparing.”

Simon continued to discuss her families own tradition, which is to make intricate recipes—one being a what she describes as “simple” apple cake.

“ Falls apples are just beginning to falter but many places out east are selling the last of their bunches. It’s warm, sweet, and has a nice mix of textures,” said Simon.

Compass News was lucky enough for Simon to share her great-grandmothers recipe with us and it can be found below.

The Recipe:
Amsler Apple-Pie Cake (Dawn photo 1 can go here.)
• 1 cup flour
• 1 cup sugar
• 1 teaspoon salt
• ½ teaspoon baking soda
• 2 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
• ½ cup butter or margarine, softened
• 1 egg
• 2 tablespoon boiling water
• 2 ½ cups apples, peeled and cut into small cubes
• ¼ cup chopped walnuts


Mix together all of the ingredients, except the apples and the nuts. When batter is smooth, that’s when you fold in the apples and nuts. This will be a stiff batter. Pour into a deep, 9-inch buttered pie dish (or cake pan) and bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 50 minutes. Serve with whipped cream or sprinkle some powdered sugar on top.

Pro tip: powdered sugar when the cake is warm is a delicious touch.

Now, mangia, mangia and enjoy your holiday with your own family traditions.

Feel free to post pictures of your own kitchen table on Christmas eve and Christmas day to be featured on the @sccc_compass.