In Italy, a predominantly Catholic country, Ognissanti (All Saints Day) is celebrated on the 1st November and the 2nd of November is I Morti, the Day of the Dead. It is dedicated to loved ones who have passed away. People start visiting cemeteries days before so on the festive days the fresh flowers give the cemeteries an explosion of colour.
In many Italian regions sweets and groceries are made especially for the Day of the Dead. These foods often have a pagan origin. In Sicily they have ‘Mani,’ meaning hand, a bread shaped like an arm in a ring that joins two hands, and the pane ‘Dei Morti’ (bread of the dead), an anthropomorphic loaf which was originally supposed to be an offer of food to the souls of dead relatives.
Sweet foods are important too and in some regions, dried fruit is a particular treat. Nowadays it seems accepted that our children will eat all sorts of sweets at Halloween. The Italian dried fruit masters Noberasco, which established in 1908 are always in high demand this time of year. Their Fruittime packs are favourites with parents who want sweet treats without the hydrogenated fats and cereals that you get in so many sweets and snacks for children.
They’re little sweet cubes that have no pectin, no colours, gelatinizing agents or preservatives. They have dried fruit and some fruit juice added but that’s it. They are still high in sugar, so should be reserved as a treat, but it’s natural sugar. My youngest two liked them but my eldest, aged 7 wasn’t so keen. They look a little bit like cat food treats, they taste like sweet fruits! I like the way you can re-seal them rather than having to feel like you should eat them all in one go. The 30g packs are re-sealable and cost just 99p. They are available as part of the Ciao Gusto Italian shop on Ocado.
Disclosure: we received some samples of the fruittime pouches, all opinions are my own. For more information, visit www.ciaogusto.com