FAMILY is such an important thing to Italians.

Typically, Italian families stay close together, with young people often living with their families – even into their thirties sometimes.

Family meals are important – especially among practicing Catholics – and whether it is because families are typically larger, closer or spend more time together, Italy boasts a much lower divorce rate than many other countries.

The stereotype of a traditional Italian mamma is a well-known one. Italian mammas are said to be very possessive of their sons – especially when it comes to girlfriends, and who is good enough for their boy.

They are said to be overly affectionate, especially in public, no matter how old you are.

But most commonly of all, Italian mammas are known for being excellent chefs, and are all too happy to keep their family well fed on only the best foods.

Arguably one of the most important members of any family, it is vital to take good care of your mamma, and show her just how much she is appreciated.

This week we will be celebrating Mother’s Day here in the UK.

In Italy Mother’s Day (La Festa della Mamma) is celebrated, however it is typically celebrated at the same time as it is in the USA, on the second Sunday in May, unlike here where we celebrate on the fourth Sunday during Lent – a date which is dictated by Easter.

Italians may not celebrate Mother’s Day at the same time as us but, being a predominantly catholic country, Lent and Easter are traditions that are observed in Italy.

Lent is the six week period leading up to Easter and it is an important time in the Catholic calendar. Lent starts on Ash Wednesday, the seventh Wednesday before Easter and the day after Shrove Tuesday.

Lent is the 40-day religious period in the run up to Easter, although technically it lasts for 46 days, because Western Churches do not count the Sundays during the period.

It is a time of solemn observance, and preparation for the celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus, which we celebrate at Easter.

It is a time for fasting or giving something up, such as junk food, smoking or biting your nails.

Traditionally though, people would abstain from meat, eggs and fats as a re-enactment of Jesus’s suffering during the 40 days he spent in the desert being tempted by Satan.

This month I wanted to bring you a recipe that would be perfect for both Mother’s Day and Lent, if you’ve chosen to eat healthily. A thoroughly Italian dish that would make any Italian mamma proud, that at the same time would be a healthy option if you have given up junk food for Lent.

Bucatini al Tonno is a delicious dish perfect for both occasions. Translating into exactly what it is, this bucatini dish combines pasta with a delicious tomato sauce, with tuna and chilli to give it a little edge.

Make this for your family, or just to spoil your mum with on Sunday. It is a simple recipe with an impressive end product that would make anyone’s mamma proud.