Colomba, The Italian Easter Bread
Legend says that on the monk’s arrival to the city, around the year 612, the abbot was received by the Lombard sovereigns, who invited him and his monk peers to a sumptuous lunch. On this occasion they were served several drinks with sautéed game meat, but they rejected it saying the meat was too rich for a period of penance, such as Lent. The queen was offended, but the abbot got through the unfortunate situation by saying that they could only eat meat after it had been blessed. The man then raised his right hand making the sign of the cross, and the food was then suddenly transformed into white bread doves, as white as the bird’s feathers. The white dove is also an iconographic symbol of the saint who is always depicted with it on his shoulder.
The original dough is made of flour, eggs, butter, sugar and candied orange zest, with a rich almond, has subsequently taken many forms and variations. Its shape is clearly linked to the Christian tradition: this bird is an animal that recurs frequently in scripture, both in the Old and New Testaments. From Noah's Ark to the Resurrection of Christ, the dove represents the Holy Spirit, salvation and hope. Although this is quite a recent invention, the colomba holds a place of honor in Italian gastronomy, representing a product of excellence in artisanal bakeries. A sweet bread that is delicate, soft and fragrant on the outside and moist inside, which requires a long and arduous preparation process.