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Christmas cake shaped like eel

A traditional Christmas cake of Perugia (now widespread across Umbria) made with sweet and bitter almonds, eggs, sugar and pine nuts, and decorated to resemble a festive eel. The legend has it that it was invented by a monk in the Middle Ages, who was sent out to satisfy the desire of the clergy in the Vatican for eels from Lake Trasimeno. The monk found the lake frozen, and concocted a pastry shaped like an eel instead.

In Emilia-Romagna, they make a similar Christmas cake known as the 'big viper', or biscione.

Text © Dana Facaros and Michael Pauls

Images by: ristoranteumbriaonline