Prof. Elena Bertoncini Zubkova (Istituto Universitario Orientale)
[For the first part of the story please go to the recipe 'Citronova Torta/Lemon Cake']
Later in the evening (from, say, 9 p.m.), the family 'opens' for the others, possibly exchanging phone or personal calls of Christmas greetings before the midnight mass for the believers. The Christmas Day and the Boxing Day (both official holidays) are celebrated together with relatives and/or friends with rich lunches (roasted goose or duck etc., a cake and more sweets ... ). Other traditional dishes are prepared for the New Year's Eve: the sour cabbage soup (with no other possible soup) and huspenina (pork meat in aspic) which requires a long preparation.
Another characteristic day is the Easter Monday (also an official holiday), which also requires a good supply of sweets, though no traditional dishes. From the morning until the lunchtime boys and young men (usually in small groups) and fathers with little sons call at all families with girls and young women that at least one of the group knows. Armed with special whip and a bottle of water or (cheap) perfume, they beat all the women - possibly on their legs and buttocks - and pour water or perfume on their heads. In the countryside in the past, some women were thrown into a stream, or buckets of ice water were poured over them, causing them even some harm. The beating recalls the whipping of Christ, but I do not know the meaning of the water. Anyway, it is a motive of grudge for any young woman not to be whipped and watered on that day. (I imagine how horrified the feminists are!) The boys are then offered hard-boiled eggs, colored and/or decorated, sweets, and the young men also some hard drink, so that before midday they are drunk from the various spirits and liquors they have mixed up.
Some girls try to revenge on the next day whipping the boys, but it is not a tradition.
15 dkg sugar
15 dkg butter
10 dkg ground nuts (almonds or hazelnuts)
6 eggs (yolks and whites separately)
Juice and peel of a lemon
10 dkg flour
Some cocoa or grated chocolate
20 dkg of sugar powder
2 tbsp hot water
Mix the yolks with sugar, add butter, nuts (or almonds), lemon juice, flour and at last with beaten egg whites. (This order is meant for a food processor. For hand stirring, mix sugar with butter first, then add yolks and other ingredients. Never put beaten whites into the food processor!) Pour one half into a rectangular baking-pan (rubbed with butter and sprinkled with flour), sprinkle abundantly with cocoa or chokolate, then pour the other half on it. Bake slowly (175°C) in the oven. While the cake is still hot, pour on it the lemon icing and cut into small squares.
Mix sugar well with lemon juice, water and rum.
The Squirrels' Cake is always a success. This is our private name, as you need hazelnuts or almonds (i.e. squirrels' food).