Pastime (for lunch)
I have already mentioned something about this in the past, but considering that during Christmas, dried fruit becomes a common food that is often found on Neapolitans’ tables, it is worth saying something more.
Preparation and use of dried fruit dates back to ancient times, when fruits and seeds available during the fall, such as walnuts, chestnuts, hazelnuts, were dried or cooked to preserve and eat them during the long and poor winter months, when most fruits and vegetables were lacking. Although nowadays the dried fruits are available throughout the year, thanks to the food industries that sell them packaged, in Naples, during the Christmas period, all grocery stores and supermarkets sell different dried fruits because Neapolitans, from time immemorial, are accustomed to eat them after lunch, during these holidays.
Munching walnuts or cracking some hazelnuts’ shells is considered almost as a pastime for Neapolitan’s families, so that they all together stay a little longer at the table during lunch or dinner.
Although in the past these foods were not as expensive as they are today, the dried fruit that we usually buy during this period are:
roasted with their shells that costs 2-4 euro per kilo.
called “Priest’s chestnuts” (probably because in the past they were the monks who prepared and preserved them for the winter). I do not know exactly what is their method of preparation, but despite dry, these chestnuts are very tasty, fragrant and soft Probably they are steamed, a way to enhance taste and smell. They cost 14-16 euro per kilo.
roasted with their shell.
dried seeds, with or without salt. Nearly 10 euro per kilo.
dried figs, often sprinkled with honey and stuffed with walnuts or almonds.
dried dates, natural or sprinkled with honey.
Then, walnuts, peanuts, salted pistachios, chickpeas, etc.. etc..