Posted by Grace Massa Langlois on Friday, 18th January 2013

During the holidays I was in charge of preparing the desserts and when my niece, Natalie, requested Lemon Meringue Tart I couldn’t disappoint. Plus whenever I get the chance to prepare a citrus dessert I’m right on it because both of my children dislike lemon desserts. It’s especially maddening since my son, Matt, eats a lemon like he eats an orange. And my daughter, Liana, enjoys lemon in everything but dessert.

A photo of Lemon Meringue Tart in a white ceramic tart dish displayed on a white cake stand with a black background.

This was the first year in about five that we enjoyed the holidays at my mother’s house (not the entire family but some of us). The family has been growing steadily and about five years ago it was decided (in my opinion, very bad decision) that we start breaking away from the tradition.

I can understand the reasoning behind it but I don’t agree with it. The home we grew up in and enjoyed so many holidays together suddenly became too small to accommodate everyone. One thing is for certain; the holidays haven’t been the same for anyone since the decision was made. And deep down inside everyone is craving to be packed in like sardines laughing, eating, playing scopa (Italian card game), roasting chestnuts and watching the wide-eyed expression on the children’s faces when Santa pops in for a visit.

A photo taken of Lemon Meringue Tart in a white tart dish displayed with a multicoloured cloth napkin displayed on white cake stand.

We grew up in a 1900 square foot redbrick side split with four floors. The top floor has three bedrooms and one full bath. The second floor has a large living room and kitchen with dining area. The third level accommodates a 2-piece bath with shower, another larger eat-in kitchen, and the one-time bedroom has been converted into a large dining area. The renovation created a large l-shaped room. The basement level has a decent sized unfinished laundry room, which is one of the most used rooms in the house.

A close up cropped photo showing one-half of a Lemon Meringue Tart displayed in white tart dish on white cake stand.

My father hooked up a third stove (used for preserving tomatoes) and built my mother a table for making pasta and preparing bread, my mother’s kneaded many a loaf of bread on that table. Adjacent to the laundry room is a 25 by 30 foot den and just beside that is my father’s wine cellar. It houses the damigiane di vino (wine demijohns) and the botti di vino (wine barrels) along with shelves and shelves of neatly organized jars of preserved tomatoes. And of course it’s also the place the hanging salami and prosciutto call home.

A photo taken looking down on a Lemon Meringue Tart with swirls of Italian Meringue.

At Christmas time, tables were arranged in an l-shape on the lower level so that when my father sat at the head of the table with my mother to his side they could see their entire family. And what a site it was, and did I mention loud, very loud. Year after year as the family grew so did my father’s smile. My father was a very quiet man, strong, protective, a man of few words but when his family gathered together you only need glance at his face and you knew he was very happy and beaming with pride.

A photo taken looking down on Lemon Meringue Tart with one slice removed displayed on a multi coloured cloth napkin.

Christmas Eve was our big celebration. Immediately after dinner you could hear the clinking sound of loose coins, it was time for the men to gather and play scopa. The woman would clear the table and bring out coffee and dessert. The kids would play and we’d roast chestnuts.

A photo of Lemon Meringue Tart in white ceramic tart dish displayed on a white cake stand with red striped napkin and antique metal cake server.

As a little girl I remember having to wait until after midnight mass to open presents but year after year, generation after generation, this tradition changed and inevitably no sooner did the men get the cards on the table the children would tug at my father’s pants and ask, “Nono (grandpa) is it time to open the presents?”

A photo of Grace's niece, Natalie with her husband Julio.

Image if you will, sixty-five people gathering in a 25 by 30 foot room with enough presents to fill the room. Chairs were arranged in the room but not near enough for all to sit, some would sit on the hearth of the fireplace, some on the stairs and some would squeeze together on the couch. A spot was always cleared in the centre of the room so we could watch the children open their presents. And for a few short seconds everyone had to be as quiet as a mouse so we could hear the bells from Santa’s sleigh. And when Santa arrived all hell broke loose, the children were barely able to contain their excitement. I cherish those times and I miss them terribly.

A photo of Grace's great-nephew, Grayson. wearing nothing but a grey wool cap with green button on a cream colour blanket.

I’m very proud to share I’ve become a great aunt again (that makes 16 with another 2 on the way). My niece, Natalie, and her husband, Julio, had their first child, Grayson.

A photo of Grace's great-nephew, Grayson wearing nothing but a green and blue knitted toque on a green blanket.

After Christmas dinner like many years before coffee and dessert was served and while I was enjoying a slice of Lemon Meringue Tart and cuddling with Grayson I couldn’t help but look around at everyone and remember all the Christmases past and my father’s expression. I could feel the tears well up and it’s made me more determined than ever to bring back the tradition.

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Posted in Baking & Pastry, Baking Mise en Place, Basics, Crostate, Dolci alla Frutta, Fillings, Frostings & Dessert Sauces, Fruit Desserts, Pastry Doughs & Batter, Pies & Tarts, Recipes, Ricette di Base

Comments (16)

16 Responses to “Lemon Meringue Tart”

  1. Lexi Says:

    This recipe looks delicious. It reminds me of my dad.
    I linked to it on my blog.

  2. marcellina Says:

    My mother and father moved to Australia on their own so even though Italian here in Austalia we are a small family.(and my mother has since passed). However my husband (also Italian) has a larger family and I too love the noise and confusion it brings. I miss it if I’m not there. Time though brings changes and changes are afoot here too. Memories are sweet and sometimes bring a tear. Love to hear of your Christmases passed. Love your Lemon Meringue too!

  3. Lauren at Keep It Sweet Says:

    OMG, could Grayson be any cuter?! Congrats on becoming a Great Aunt again:-)

    Beautiful tart, as usual, Grace!

  4. Grace Massa Langlois Says:

    Thanks Lauren, he’s such a good baby too, I can’t believe I have another two on the way Lauren, this will make 6 for my nephew Rob and niece Robyn, they make such cute babies and my niece Vera is having her first.

  5. Grace Massa Langlois Says:

    Hi Marcellina, I think my biggest fear is that if we don’t celebrate together the family will start to separate and we won’t be as close as we are, up to this point although family is growing everyday we all know what’s happening in each other’s lives and we’re all very close. This type of closeness could drive some a little crazy but for me it’s all I know and I don’t want to lose it. And it’s also because I believe Christmas is for the kids and with all the little ones in the family I wish for them to experience what we did. I know my kids, although they’re now grown, miss it terribly. I am happy to hear I am not the only one wo loves the noise and confusion. I hope you enjoyed a wonderful holiday with your family Marcellina, all the best.

  6. Grace Massa Langlois Says:

    Thanks Lexi!

  7. Joe Says:

    Grace, thank you for providing my wife(Terri D’Orsaneo) with you recipe for Italian Cream Cake, It was delicious. Although I am older, it seems our families shared the same values and traditions. I am familiar with the card game you mentioned Scopa, also know as Sweep. My dad was not much of a card player but my uncles and cousins played whenever we got together.I am happy that Terri was introduced to you. Happy New Year.

  8. Grace Massa Langlois Says:

    Very welcome Joe! And a very happy New Year to you and Terri, please give her my best.

  9. Gemma Says:

    Oh my! Whenever I see a lesson meringue pie my heart skips a beat! They’re so tempting and deliciously good-looking. Btw, I love your writting skills, you are a good story-teller! :-)
    I’ve said it before in the past, but I have to say it again: your blog is wonderful, from the recipes to the pictures and the stories you share with us.
    Greetings from Spain!

  10. Grace Massa Langlois Says:

    Thank you so much Gemma, you made my day – All the very best in 2013! I signed off without sharing that my niece, Laura spent the summer in Spain. She was hired by a family to teach their children English. She said the food was amazing and the people so friendly and welcoming. Some day Gemma, Spain is on my bucket list to visit, I was so envious. I told my daughter she should be doing things like this while she was still young, it’s a wonderful opportunity to learn another language and experience another culture and traditions.

  11. Ela Says:

    I really enjoy reading your blog not only because you never fail to impress me with your scrumptious recipes but I love the way you tell stories about your family traditions. I like lemon pie, I wonder why I don’t make it often. Thank you for the recipe, I’ll be trying this soon.

  12. Kelly Senyei (Just a Taste) Says:

    Just stumbled across this recipe and am so happy to have found your site! Looking forward to exploring much more!

  13. Grace Massa Langlois Says:

    Welcome Kelly and thank you.

  14. Recipes: Lemon Meringue Tart : Perlkönig Says:

    [...] Original recipe: http://gracessweetlife.com/2013/01/lemon-meringue-tart/ [...]

  15. Aaron Says:

    Thank you, Grace! Another terrific recipe!

    http://perlkonig.com/2013/01/26/recipes-lemon-meringue-tart/

  16. marly Says:

    What a beautiful baby! And, as always, another beautiful recipe too!

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