19 December 2019
Soul kitchen: a peek inside the kitchens of UM employees

Professor Formisano's ideal Christmas dinner

Elia Formisano, professor of Analysis Methods in Neuroimaging, has just returned from a holiday. He spent his summer in the family home just south of Naples, the city in which he was born and raised. There, by the seaside, he was able to indulge in all his old favourite foods: clams, all sorts of fish and, best of all, octopus. Grilled octopus, octopus salad, pasta with octopus – he loves them all equally. Much to his sorrow, fresh octopus is nearly impossible to get in Maastricht. Fortunately, one place does have octopus on the menu: Marres, one of his top restaurant picks.

Neapolitan Christmas


He left Naples over 20 years ago, but he returns at least twice a year: in the summer and at Christmastime. He has fond memories of endless meals at his grandmother’s house with the whole family. “I don’t have many siblings, but when all my cousins, uncles and aunts got together, you had that picture of typical Italian family, many people seated at long tables with lots of food and alcohol and heated debates. Often about politics, because some leaned to the left politically and some to the right. Every year there would come a moment when my grandmother would lament that she wasn’t going to fit in the family grave because it was too full; always a source of great hilarity. I loved it.” There was a pattern to their Christmas dinner as well. “On Christmas Eve it’s antipasto of vegetables and fish, pasta with clams and then fish. On Christmas Day you get the heavier stuff: lasagne and lamb, not to mention all the sweets. My job as a child was to seal the homemade ravioli and cut them into squares. Octopus was my favourite even back then.” And off he goes to his favourite restaurant for some comfort food.

By: Annelotte Huiskes (text), Sem Shayne (photography)