How many foods these days can truthfully claim to be traditional “Christmas” foods? Turkey—no. Turkey is Thanksgiving food re-used by unimaginative Americans a month later. Ham is very Easter, but more generally just a holiday food. Pumpkin pie, cookies, yams—all the things we eat at Christmas have associations with other holidays.
Face it: The one food that says “Christmas” and only “Christmas” is fruitcake. Which we all agree sucks. But not the lighter, airier, less sweet and less fruity Italian version of fruitcake: panettone.

Panettone originated in Milan, so it’s stylish. It’s Italian, so it’s good for the soul. It can be eaten as a dessert, a coffeecake or (my favorite) for breakfast. It’s especially good toasted with butter, and when it goes stale, you can cut it up and toss it with milk, eggs, sugar and cinnamon to make a killer bread pudding.
You can only drink two things with panettone: good strong coffee or wine, preferably a sweet dessert wine like a moscato.
Do you see why your Christmas will be incomplete without some panettone? Locally, you can get it at Emporio Rulli (, A.G. Ferrari ( Molinari (415-421-2337) and Lucca Ravioli (415-647-5581). Merry Christmas.