In these Holidays here in Italy we go 
around the Christmas markets.
There are many, all distinctive and spectacular; 
but this time we have chosen Brunico, 
a small town in Val Pusteria;
in the region of Trentino Alto Adige, Sud Tirol.

There is snow and it’s cold, but it’s nice walking through the many stalls and people lost in wandering among handicrafts of all kinds.


There are two things that we liked more of all: the Zelten and the mulled wine.
And we want to find out more .....


To begin with, you should know that its origin is not Nordic, but Mediterranean. In fact, it can be considered the heir of conditum paradoxum, the recipe for which is contained in the "De re coquinaria",  the ooking book made by the famous gourmet Apicius; Roman aristocrat contemporary of Tiberius, probably born around 25 a. C.. He was a refined gourmet and culinary arts teacher, who dedicated himself to the pleasures of life and good food.

Here's how Apicius describes the preparation of conditum paradoxum:
"They put sixteen pounds of honey in the bronze vessel, which previously were paid two sextaries of wine so that the wine is reduced during the cooking of honey. 

You warm on a slow fire of very dry wood; during cooking mix it with a stick. 
If it starts to boil break the boil with a splash of wine, but the liquid ceases to boil even when removed from the heat.

When it has cooled it goes back to the fire, it goes like this for two or three times. At the end you remove it from the heat and foam it the next day. 

Then add four ounces of ground pepper, three scruples of “mastice”, a dragma leaves of nard and saffron, five kernels roasted dates and dates soaked in wine, wet with first quality wine and in sufficient quantity so that the mixture is sweet. Having accomplished this, you verses on all eighteen sextaries of sweet wine, then the mixture will get hot coals. "


The mulled wine is used to warm up, 
but is also a great energy drink.
It is often considered an excellent remedy for colds.
So what are you waiting for to prepare a good mulled wine?

1 liter and a half of red wine
3 cinnamon sticks
250 grams of sugar
10 or 12 cloves
2 oranges
1 lemon
1 apple
1 pinch of nutmeg

Wash the oranges and lemons, then cut their zest, being careful not to cut into the white (too bitter for mulled wine).
Then wash the apples, remove the core and cut into thin slices.
Put the wine in a saucepan with the cinnamon sticks, sugar, cloves, apple cut into slices and peel of citrus fruits. Add a pinch of nutmeg.
Stir with a wooden spoon for a few minutes before turning on the heat, then simmer the mixture for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until the dissolution of the sugar.
Now it comes time difficult: approaching a flame to the surface of the wine, in order to evaporate the alcohol.
Be careful because the wine will immediately raise the fire in blue flames, but after a while they’ll be gone and extinguished.
Wait a few minutes, then pour the mulled wine into mugs and serve.
You can filter mulled wine or leave it, depending on your preference


Zelten is a typical Christmas sweet of Trentino Alto Adige.
Each family jealously guards its recipe for this special bread which is prepared during the days of Advent, and then eat during Christmas.

A legend says that instead Zelten was prepared on December 21, the eve of St. Thomas.
The whole family participate in the preparation of this cake, especially young women, who work very hard, because the cake must be donated to their future boyfriend and husband. According to the story, the girls prepare a great dessert to share for the whole family and several smaller ones to donate.

Once prepared the zelten, the mother marks with a cross the center of the cake and bless him before baking.
St. Thomas is the one to which are dedicated these cakes, because he will bring love to young women.
During the preparation, the women invoke the saint 
to sow love in their lives.

In addition to the preparation of the cake there are other rituals connected to the saint. For example, the girls write letters of the alphabet on small slips of paper that are then folded and placed under the pillow before going to sleep, when they pray and invoke the saint. 

Awake in the morning girls just take one of the cards at random and the letter drawn will be the initial of the future boyfriend.
The rituals were many and varied from valley to valley, what they had in common was the search for love.

Once ready, Zelten was blessed last time and put in the cupboard waiting for the Epiphany, the day when it was divided among all the members of the family.

This is the recipe of zelten, according to a manuscript of 700 preserved at the library of Rovereto:
"Take grape Candia, currant, pine nuts, cutted blanched almonds , minutely chopped lemon peel, anise seeds, candied citrus peel, cinnamon, a little 'sugar and a little' flour and stir together everything. Take a bit of yeast, the size of a walnut... "

             Here is the traditional recipe of Trentino.

Flour (preferably rye flour) 400 g
 Sugar, 250 g
3 Eggs
Butter, 150 g
 Walnuts, 100 g
 Dried figs, 100 g
Pine nuts, 100 g
Almonds, 100 g
Cedar, 100 g
 raisins, 100 g
2 sachets of dried yeast

The evening before the preparation of the cake, prepare the chopped nuts, then put to soak in rum raisins and dried figs.

Beat the yolks with the sugar helping with melted butter and diluted with half a glass of warm water.
Let the mixture stand for about half an hour, add the flour and beating all the other ingredients, chopped and mixed together, and left to rest the night before in four or five tablespoons of rum.
Finally add the wipped egg whites.
Divide the dough into two parts and in each part add a teaspoon of baking powder.
Roll out the dough into two greased and floured cake tins, and bake them for 30 minutes at 220°C.

Now I can wish you all  


May the new year give you the chance 
to make your finest desires be true!