Dear Festive Treason – please resolve the issue of how many times it’s possible to re-gift those giant beribboned domed boxes of Panettone. Nobody actually eats this stuff, right? So when you receive one you know it began life four Christmases ago in some office party hamper along with the small jars of hardened brandy butter, etc. So what is the acceptable form of disposal of this middle-class Christmas scourge???
Sincerely, Pissed Off by Panettone
Dear Pissed Off
You’ve raised an age-old problem here. Panettone originated in Italy centuries ago as a human head-sized, kind of fruit bread and ever since then your issue of re-gifting has plagued us all, from common folk to world leaders, wondering what to do with this head of bread in the gawdy box.
Legend has it that long ago, a young Milanese gent became besotted with the local baker’s daughter, and in an effort to honour his love, he ditched his nobleness and began to work at the bakery where he developed the now famous bread. Unfortunately like many young men in love, he was very much thinking with his ‘Panet’ and upon consuming the new treat, the poor girl became so hopelessly constipated she was forced to her bed for several days before the great mass of sweet dough could be passed.
The whole episode caused quite a stir, and somehow, the tradition caught on to the point where today the stockpile of Panettone boxes has grown to epic proportions. A Pan-demic if you will.
American writer Calvin Trillin once wrote his theory about a cousin of Panettone – fruitcake – whereby he proposed that no one in history had ever bought a fruitcake for themselves.
I was thinking similarly for Panettone, but a brief online search revealed there are people out there who actually revere the sweet bread, although interestingly it’s usually only when they’ve drowned it (or themselves) in alcohol, or have smothered it in wads of butter or cream. Perhaps a form of the food our poor Italian baker’s daughter could have considered.
Even my own family, the cheapskates that they are, do not waste anything and a Panettone box is soon dismantled for use as either a scrubbing brush, footrest or pillow, providing it survives a good whiskey dunking.
But to answer your question, when is the acceptable form of disposal? Unfortunately, there is none.
If you search for re-gifting solutions you’ll find a few. Like the one suggesting you mark an X on the bottom of your Panettone box so you know if it comes back to you.
But in the spirit of Festive Treason I say, more is less. Don’t let the Panettone hide in its box. Share it with pride, especially for those people giving you the shits at Christmas time. Take the sucker out of it’s ugly box, shove your fist through it and the first person that pisses you off at Christmas, clobber them quick before they get the chance to say “Ah, Panettone. You shouldn’t have.”
Finally, Pissed Off, I’d like to leave you with this short limerick in appreciation of your fine question:
The enduring Panettone curse
Like an STD but much worse
You cannot abide it
Who knows what’s inside it
And an absolute bitch to disperse