Carnevale is a special winter celebration that happens forty days before Easter and ends with Mardi Gras. The day after Ash Wednesday is time for repentance for the week or two of festivities with fat food, gluttony, dances, at times debauchery and divertissements of various natures. In some parts of the world like Rio de Janeiro, New Orléans and Italy people work all year round in making elaborate costumes they will wear on Mardi Gras, as Carnevale is a giant party for children and adults. Everybody must wear a mask to hide behind it and be mischievous. The theory behind the mask is that whatever is done under the mask covering the face is not valid and it doesn’t count.
Viareggio in Tuscany, Putignano in Puglia, Rome, beautiful Amalfi on the Italian Tyrrhenian coast and various other cities in Italy organize large parades with huge floats representing political people and notables of the country, actors and actresses, soccer players and social climbers, all being mocked and ridiculed in their roles. Venice is the most sought after Carnevale celebration of the entire Italian peninsula. The atmosphere is ethereal, the city becomes more magic than usual, private parties resonate from every balcony and public parties in the piazza are like Goldoni’s comedy in the XVII century costumes. The roles are not defined but it seems everybody in the street know the script and play the parts well. Venice is full of legends and real stories, every corner can tell an original one.
(Frittelle Dolci with Cherry Marmalade)
Carnevale is time for fatty food and simple pastries. Depending on the Italian region some of the specialties are frittelle, chiacchiere, cenci, cicerchiata and frappe. It’s OK to eat fried food once a year and these sweets are all fried. Today nobody eats food cook or fried in lard, but a long time ago the original recipes called a good home cured lard.
To keep fried food light and healthy you can either choose to fry with peanut oil that can stand the high temperature or use an Italian fryer equipped with charcoal filter. Food fried this way will take a short time in the oil, will turn out crispy, tender and not greasy. I own one of those Italian frying devices; the house doesn’t even smell like fried food and everything that comes out of there is a real treat.
Other types of fatty food might be the “Casatiello” from Naples, a type of bread stuffed with salami, prosciutto, cheeses and boiled eggs. “Calzone” from Puglia, a type of thin-layered pizza stuffed with grilled leaks, anchovies, sausages and olives. Arancini, rice balls stuffed with mozzarella, prosciutto e peas; Croquettes, potatoes balls stuffed same as the arancini; Pasta Frittata also stuffed with a variety of meats. The variety of Frittata are countless and endless. “Porchetta”, which is an entire pig roasted over an open spit fire is the delight of Carnevale. Most pubs, restaurants and rosticceria (finger food places) will prepare one.
Food connoisseurs will not buy a few slices of cold cuts every time they need to make sandwiches, it’s too expensive! To save money, they instead will buy an entire leg of prosciutto and use the D’Artagnan, a ham-carving stand to cut the prosciutto very thin and make it last a very long time. During Carnevale time the D’Artagnan gets a lot of usage.
Both of my books offer many colorful opportunities to try these types of food, except that my food is well thought out for today’s modern need to stay healthy, for enjoyment and not for fattening you up.
This year Carnevale 2012 runs from February 11th to the 21st. The day after, Ash Wednesday, in preparation for the resurrection of Jesus Christ on Easter, some people will go on Lent practice for forty days. This means something must be eliminated from the daily nourishment, or if this is not possible for health reasons, some good deeds towards others, the community, or the society is well accepted.
Now you have a month to prepare, to find or sew your costume and once you have it, post it on my blog, we can have a contest.
I am delighted to bring you novelties in food and home décor from my Italian culture. Should you need any help, do not hesitate to leave your name in the box below. Ciao,
Copyright © 2012 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved
Robert Taitano, a friend and business associate says: “Valentina – an International Professional Interior Designer is now giving you an opportunity to redesign your palate”.
Valentina the author of RED-A Voyage Into Colors, the forthcoming design book on the subject of colors, due to be released soon.
She is also the author of two published regional Italian cuisine books: