Every branch of our Italian family tree makes calzone. At least what we know as calzone: a round or rectangular, incredibly delectable, bread pie stuffed with five unvarying ingredients: ricotta, eggs, parmesan, mozzarella and Italian sausage.
Even though the main ingredients of calzone never vary among the families (or generations), each maker and baker adds their own special touch: a thinner crust, a little red pepper, more mozzarella, less ricotta, less filling, more filling, spicy sausage or sweet sausage.
But always sausage with fennel seed.
So distinct are the differences, I can tell who baked which calzone with just one bite.
In our house, it’s an all day affair of raising and kneading enough dough, cooking enough sausage, cracking enough eggs and mixing enough stuffing to bake enough pies to make it through Christmas.
Always making plenty to feed growing families and friends. But never enough to make it to Easter, when the whole delicious process starts over again.
Mom breaks with tradition, making each calzone something even more special than pieces of heaven, hot from the oven. She makes them a celebration. Golden, braided baskets of glistening crusts brimming with love and lusciousness.
A crime to cut into. A bigger one not to.
Calzone is family.
Sometimes a little spicy.
More than a little crusty.
Ill-advised in excess, yet never around long enough, and missed when gone.