Oranges and Christmas…

Nonno Anni told me when he received an orange for Christmas during his childhood in the 1920s, he treasured it. I knew he and his Mum were poor and village life in Italy was hard at that time, especially with his father far away in Australia to seek work, but an orange… I couldn’t quite believe it when I found this out as a child in the 1970s and oranges were so easy to get then. But fresh oranges were considered treasures before refrigeration and faster transport. Especially at Christmas considering that since ancient times, oranges have been said to bring joy, good luck and to ward off evil. (What must Nonno Anni have thought once he had a whole display of oranges at his fruit shop and milk bar!)

So, with Christmas oranges in mind, I decided to bake an orange cake since it’s that time of year and it wasn’t until making it that I realised, this one cake of simple ingredients is also made up of elements from several generations… the Christmas orange story from Nonno’s Italian childhood, the cake tin well-used in baking for countless cake stalls and Australian country shows before my mother-in-law handed it onto us, the orange cake recipe in her mother’s 1930s cookbook, also passed on to us with affection. (And I love how the recipe’s first line is, three eggs and their weight in sugar…)

If I’m honest, Christmas isn’t always the easiest time for me as it feels bittersweet with the happiness of those present mingled with the quiet of those unable to be or now gone. But food is so special in that certain dishes can trigger those lovely memories of people dear to us no matter how long it may be since we’ve seen them and this year, I feel happy that oranges can bring that little bit of sunshine.

Warmest wishes and thank you for your lovely support and messages throughout the year. May 2020 be filled with light and some happiness no matter what else it may bring! Wishing you tante belle cose – many beautiful things, Zoe xx


Filed under dishes + recipes, inspiration + history, kitchen stories

10 responses to “Oranges and Christmas…

  1. Rodney James

    Compliments of the season to you and yours Zoe I’ll always be happy to have discovered you and your lovely stories. Happy 2021 Regards, Rod James

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. Rina

    Zoe, your anecdotes and stories have brought joy to your readers. Wishing you and your family Peace and Harmony always. Buon Natale e Felice Anno Nuovo.

    • I hope so, Rina! Thank you very much for your kind words. Best wishes to you and all your loved ones and hope the coming year is a wonderful one for you. Buon Natale e auguri, Zoe xx


    Merry Christmas to you and your family, Zoe, may the coming year bring all your heart desires/Love Marina Incletolli ( Boccabella) xx

  4. sjruthven

    Merry Christmas to you and Roger, the orange cake sounds delicious. I also remember hearing over the years how precious an orange was to receive !

  5. jboccabebigpondnetau

    Hi Zoe

    Wishing you and family all the best wishes for a Merry Christmas and a safe and well 2021.

    Cheers Joyce (Boccabella)

    Adolfo was my father.

    • Hello Joyce, thank you, lovely to hear from you. Warmest wishes to you and your loved ones as well and much happiness for the coming year! (I remember Adolfo well, including his homemade grappa!) 😊💛 Zoe xx

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