Waiting for Christmas


Cracking walnuts

When a young couple spends night after night cracking walnuts there must be something wrong… or something really special!

Well, there must be something special between the two partners in crime, but there’s always a reason behind choices and actions… I mean, there are plenty of nicer things to do rather than cracking walnuts! 

By the way, it happens every year in this period, while waiting for Christmas: it’s part of our Christmas routine. 

Only people from the southern area of Parma towards the Apennines can understand this insanity: the making of spongata.


Spongata is a traditional Christmas sweet of ancient origin and I had the chance to inherit the recipe a few years ago from my great friend Adriana who has now turned 81 years old.

Many people in the area are used to making spongata and I’ve tasted many good results, but Adriana’s was always my favourite one. 

So I asked Adriana to teach me how to make spongata and she invited me to bake it with her together with her daughter SIlvia that Christmas. I have a wonderful memory of those days. Oh yes, those days, as you need more than 1 day to make spongata. Time is always one of the basic ingredients in traditional cooking. We made 46 spongatas cooking them in a wood-burning oven, not bad for my first time.

From that year on I’ve started to make my own spongata, starting from Adriana’s recipe and method, but adding my final touch. That was my Christmas gift for relatives and friends and it’s always been a great success year after year.

The only thing I miss now is doing that with Adriana and Silvia: 3 women in 1 kitchen can have real fun.

When Roberto became part of my life, he brought about what to me seemed an innovation but which was not. His grandfather handcrafted a wooden mould to decorate the spongata surface decades ago and his family decided to share it with me. That’s when I felt included in his family for the first time.

Romanticism apart, I still haven’t told you why we are currently cracking walnuts: cracking walnuts it’s the first step of the process and rule number 1 is to buy unshelled walnuts and never pre-shelled ones. So let’s keep going until the next step.

Stay tuned!