Sunday, April 20, 2014


Easter 2007. Bold times.
Today is Easter, my favorite food holiday in Italy, which is surprising since my family must have celebrated it perhaps 3 times total. During Easter time, Italy is inundated with wonderful desserts such as chocolate eggs (hiding gifts!) and my favorite traditional cake, the colomba pasquale, or "Easter dove", a sweet and wonderfully soft bread sprinkled with candied citrus and topped with sugar and almonds. Colomba is not easy to find here, so you can only imagine I much I missed it, especially in my first years as an expat.

In 2007, emboldened by the small group of accolades Italian Dead Chef had, I decided to make my own colomba for Easter. I found a recipe from a reputable-looking blog that required about a day's work and 5 rises for the dough. All bakers out there know this was a Masterchef's endeavour, but I was blinded by the Vuitton-style paper mold I had found at Sur La Table, and I felt invincible.

As you can see from the picture, my colomba came out really pretty, and the sugar topping was perfect. Unfortunately, those were its only qualities.

The first sign that something was wrong was that my freshly-baked colomba was a little heavier than I expected. In fact, it weighed like a stuffed Thanksgiving turkey. It also emanated an extremely pungent whiff of yeast, evidently used in mindless abundance. The taste? My colomba was gummy and wet, bitter and alcoholic: completely and inexorably unedible.

I threw the colomba away and ran out to find a substitute. For the following three days, my colomba laid at the bottom of my trash can, together with the egg shells, the empty bags of roasted almonds, and the empty packets of organic pastry flour. With all that yeast, I was afraid it might resuscitate. You never know with these Christian holidays.


If you're one of the very few people who likes to listen to music while perusing websites, here is a choice song that goes with this Easter post. The song is "Vola colomba" ("Fly, Dove") and was a massive hit in 1952. My parents, who were innocent children when this song was released, will run hiding under the couch if they hear this, but I can safely listen to it ironically from the safe distance of two generations removed. Sing it, Nilla!


  1. Just found your blog! This is my second Easter in Rome and my colomba was fabulous, baked by a Sicilian bakery nearby, accompanied by my ever-so-American scrambled eggs this morning. We are off to the Ghetto for dinner, though!

    1. Ooooh... I'm envious! Colomba and scrambled eggs really sound like the best of both worlds. Have a great time in Rome!