I know, I know.
I keep talking and posting about frittelle. I am addicted to Carnival pastries therefore I guess it's time for me to write the 2° article on Carnival!
Today we talk about the typical sweets of the period, knowing that Carnival itself is a moment of transgression and abundance, nowadays a food one especially!
The basic rule is: fried, fried, fried.
I remember my father often saying, in front of my mother who was a bit amused but horrified, that ANYTHING, if fried, is inevitably "good to eat" (in the sense of edible).
Indeed, there is no question between boiled and fried potatoes, as well as between fried or stewed chicken!
I recently went to visit my mother (with masks, distances and self-certification) and to my great joy I found the tray you see in the last photo waiting for me. Such happiness!
Her first question was: "does it smell of fried food in here?"
No Mum, dont' worrry, it's a delicious smell. Give me your recipe so that I can write my article.
Good heavens! Hers is a recipe revisited with ricotta cheese to make it lighter (could there be such a thing?? Fried food just can't be light!) but the original frittelle are made with semolina and before that with corn flour, sultanas and pine nuts: the Venetian style.
Yes, because the once a upon a time housewives did their best using what was in the house (very little): for children sweet and fried was good enough! Therefore, throughout Italy there are thousands variation of frittelle even if I am stuffing myself with Venetian ones and those filled with zabaglione cream (my favorites!).
The tradition dates back to the Renaissance time and the fritoleri (frittelle makers), at least seventy of them, gathered in a proper guild in 1600s and the art of frying delicious pasta passed down from father to son in specific assigned areas of the Serenissima Republic of Venice.
On large wooden boards they kneaded flour, eggs, butter, raisins and pine nuts outdoors and fried the mixture in pork lard, in large cauldrons supported by tripods to obtain what in 1700 became the national dessert of the Veneto state!
So here are the photos with the original recipe, the revisited one and the modern ones: fritola Venetian-style!
With my mother-in-law the story doesn’t change much. My my husband's family though is more into Chiacchiere (crostoli, frappe, bugie, if you prefer, or galani in Venice). Matter of taste.
The galani seem simpler because they have fewer ingredients. After all it is sweet egg kneaded pasta but if you don't have the machine to roll the dough very thin, doing it by hand only with a rolling pin is really a challenge!
These are rectangular pieces of fried dough (always fried!) and dusted with plenty of icing sugar that date back to the Roman Saturnalia (those wild celebrations that took place, in fact, before a period of fasting and purification: eventually it all addsup).
How to make them? I don't want to bore you: on social media, under crostoli and frittelle you will find everything and more.
The secret lies in the frying, indeed in finding the right oil temperature, a skill refined over time and by making a lot of mistakes. Let's say that the ideal one is around 350° F. Another trick is speed, so you don't leave time for the pastry to absorb the oil which would make it too greasy and heavy(ier!).
Here are the photos of my mother-in-law's crostoli recipe!
In normal times I would be strolling on alleys and bridges with my guests for a Carnival tailor-made historical food experience and I would certainly be wearing a handmade papier-mache mask... but we will talk about this in the next episode!
This year, from 7 January to 16 February 2021 you will find Carnival sweets despite the pandemic and in full compliance with anti-covid restrictions. The pastry shops and bakeries are open for take-away and you might spot me waiting impatiently for my turn to allow myself this sweet transgression.
This year all we can do is eating!