Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Manicotti Traditions #FlavoursomeTuesday

Yes, it's Wednesday  I'm a day late.

We never thought a tradition would end this way.

In 2015, I blogged about my in law's traditional family Christmas.  We would all travel downstate, some 190 miles (305 km) to a city near New York City, and visit my mother in law's in laws.   But in 2015, we had to move my mother in law (who is now 90) up here to be near two of her sons.  We weren't able to make the trip.

A cousin of my spouse's hosted the dinner for years.  Even during her two bouts with breast cancer, she insisted on hosting.  She made her specialty.  She told me she timed it around her bouts of tiredness and other side effects of the medication she was taking.


"I am not an accomplished cook." she told me once.  "But all you need to do is learn to make one dish, and make it well.  Make it better than anyone".  And so, she developed her specialty.

Manicotti.  The kind of manicotti that is pronounced "mon-i-gaut" (accent on the final syllable). Perish the thought anyone in my inlaw's family would ever pronounce it "man-i-cotti".

I hate the lighting in my house sometimes - gives everything a yellowish cast.
No, manicotti is not the stuff served in pasta tubes in some clueless Italian restaurants (and you know which ones they are).  No.  Manicottis start with light as air crepes, each painstakingly cooked by hand, spread out.  Then they are filled with a pillowy mixture of ricotta, mozzarella, eggs, parsley, and love. Covered in homemade tomato sauce simmered with meatballs and Italian sausage, they are a dish worthy of Christmas dinner.

In 2015, the thought of missing her manicotti hurt us almost as much as the fact that we would not see their maker or the other family.

So I begged my spouse to call, and get the recipe from her.

I didn't know if she would reveal the recipe. But she likes us.  After some hesitation, she gave the recipe to us  She emailed it to us.  But first, she cautioned that my spouse (the family cook) really had no business making it.  Perhaps she would come up and visit us, one day.

My spouse promised he would not embarrass the family.
He cooked the crepes.
He mixed the ricotta filling.

He assembled the manicotti.  On Christmas Day 2015, he served it.

Now, in 2017, due to a combination of various situations, my spouse won't be making manicottis.
Instead, he will make a standing rib roast.  I'm sure it will be delicious.

Maybe one day the homemade manicottis will be back on the menu.  But for now, we have to let go of tradition.

Welcome to #FlavoursomeTuesday.

Join Bellybytes at Mumbai on a High and Shilpa Gupte at Metanoia for #FlavoursomeTuesdays.


  1. I dunno, Alana, I would definitely prefer my 'manigott' without that sauce. So, I could eat it....

    1. As it happens, my cousin in law also would make a vegetarian friendly (no meat) sauce and set a portion aside that hadn't touched meat as one of my husband's cousins is a lifelong vegetarian. So not everyone in that Italian Catholic family got the meatballs and sausage.

  2.'s hard to let go of tradition. But enjoy your rib roast.

    1. We will - and we now may have to move up the dinner because we may have a snowstorm Christmas Eve into Christmas. We'll see (and you may still get it worse than us) Oh well.....

  3. We had traditional holiday foods on both the Italian and Polish sides of the family, but I started changing the menus several years ago. No complaints so far.

  4. Oh, wow. 'All you need to do is learn to make one dish, and make it well. Make it better than anyone', that's what my sister says always. But that's because she is plain lazy to learn to cook.

  5. Perhaps there's another day when the manicotti will be on the menu. New Year's Day is coming. Or perhaps this would be a good January 27th dish (just because). If you love it, you should make an occasion to have it. Just a thought.

  6. Thanks for sharing this lovely story. What a pity you haven’t had manicotti for two years now. It is sad when a tradition fades away.... perhaps you may revive it another day!

  7. Wow! I so loved that line, Alana! "All you need to do is learn to make one dish well!" You know, I am not a great cook, and am always worried what people might say. But, these words of wisdom are sure going to help me feel better. I do make certain dishes really well..I pour my love in making them and feel so proud of my efforts!

    Thank you for sharing this story! How I wish I could taste the tempting manicotti!

  8. Oh my gosh, those look delicious! I don't think I've ever had that variety.

    My mom always makes spaghetti for Christmas, I have no idea why as we aren't Italian but I never complained! :)


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