One thing Italians and Americans have in common is their love of heavy, elaborate meals at holiday celebrations. Only the Italians, though, can make the excuse that drinking liquor after your meal is good for your digestion. One of my favorite digestivi, especially around Christmas, is Strega (Italian for witch). It comes from Benevento, a city in the Campania region that was said to have once been the meeting place for all the witches of the world.
The liquor was born in 1860 and has been produced by the Alberti family for 150 years. It’s 100% natural, distilled from over 70 herbs and spices coming from every corner of the world. Among these herbs are Ceylon cinnamon, Florentine iris and Italian Apennine juniper which grow along the riverbanks in Campania.
It gets its name from a mystical legend, citing a walnut tree in Benevento as the meeting place for witches. As the legend goes, each witch was guided by a demonic spirit who would rub her with magic ointment before riding off into the night on her broomstick. The witches would then come together to worship the devil, who appeared as a buck, rewarding the best witches and punishing the bad ones. The scene was eventually dissolved by the sunrise.
It is perfect to enjoy as is, on the rocks, over fruit, ice cream and other desserts. Strega can even be used as an ingredient in cakes, pastries and cocktails. Check out the website http://www.strega.it/ for recipe and serving ideas. After all, what better way to cure your food induced coma over the holidays than to sip a glass of fine Italian liquor? The effects are like witchcraft! — Danielle Rovet
Learn more about Italian holiday traditions in Dream of Italy’s free 35-page Christmas in Italy e-book!