Carnival in Italy: Chiacchiere and Frittelle
These are the typical desserts of this celebration. Have you ever tasted them?
The chiacchiere are crisp and delicate fried sheets typical of the Carnival period. They are called by different names according to the regions of origin: chiacchiere in Lombardy, cenci and donzelle in Tuscany, frappe in Emilia Romagna, cròstoli in Trentino, galani and gale in Veneto, bugie in Piedmont, etc.
It is a very crumbly dessert, obtained by subtly pulling a simple dough which is subsequently fried and sprinkled with icing sugar for the final touch. In addition to the classic ones, the chiacchiere can be covered with honey, cocoa, or even washed down with Alchermes (Italian liqueur used primarily for the bathing of sweets, with red colour) or served accompanied by dark chocolate.
The most classic shape is rectangular, with two precise central cuts, but also, in this case, there are different variations, such as the knots you see in the photo.
Lately, to facilitate those who are always on a diet, the chiacchiere is also cooked in the oven. According to the most traditionalists, I am an abomination, but I think they are pleasantly light.
The Neapolitan legend
It seems that it was Queen Margherita of Savoy who gave the name to this dessert. During a chat with her guests, she became hungry and called the court cook, Raffaele Esposito, to have a dessert made that would delight her and her guests. He took inspiration from that "chat" and gave the name "Chiacchiere" to the dessert just made. Ah, I forgot: "chiacchierare" in Italian means "chatting" or "to chat", "fare quattro chiacchiere" is a confidential way to say "have a chat".
The Carnival Fritters are among the most straightforward and most typical Carnival desserts of Italian cuisine, in particular of the Venetian tradition. Traditional frittelle are soft balls made with a simple batter made from flour, eggs, milk, sugar and citrus-scented raisins! Shaped them with a spoon in an instant; then they are fried in hot oil and then rolled in icing sugar! As soft as clouds, fragrant and tasty!
There are a thousand variations, with the pastry cream inside, with raisins and pine nuts, with Alchermes. Needless to say: they are all good!
From the Ancient Rome
This dish, formerly widespread in most of the Mediterranean, was known even in Ancient Rome, and probably even earlier. In fact, the ancient Romans called these sweets frictilia. In Italy, several regions count it among their typical dishes or with the DOP brand, and each one gives this dish a different name.
Happy Carnival to all!! :-)