Playful Carnevale

The Christian calendar marks Carnevale as the period between the Epiphany and the first day of Lent, this being the day when all the fatty food must end until Easter Day. In Austria and Bavaria, Carnevale called Fashing starts the day of the Epiphany. In the history of time, Carnevale has been a magic time of divertissement, debauchery, costume parties, eating, unrestrained sex, and a time during which life challenges were momentarily forgotten. We know how much we need to forget the times of oppression we are living in today!

(click on each photo to view it larger).

During this time, it is a must to wear frivolous masks to disguise one’s identity, as every prank is permitted and accepted, one doesn’t want to be recognized the next day for the illicit deeds done.

Romans celebrated their Gods with Carnevale festivities. The use of masks concealed their licentious behaviors and their social status, allowing old and young, rich and poor, nobles, servants, slaves and prostitutes to mingle and dance together until dawn. They also celebrated Bacchus, the God of wines, with rivers of wines and long hours of dances in the streets of Rome, hence the name Bacchanalia. The gladiators entertained the public and the king of the festivities, elected by the people for only the duration of the feasts, organized public games to which everybody could participate.

(All photos taken by Gioia Co. Italian Products and Imports)

Italy is one of the country in Europe most famous for the celebration of Carnevale and Venice is the fulcrum. Venice is a magical and mysterious town on its own, but at Carnevale the town returns back in time with all the extravagant and colorful costumes people wear and breath-taking masks to cover their faces. Strolling in costumes through the narrow streets of a foggy Venice in February is like walking in the 16th century. Everybody is disguised, people laughing, chatting, a glass of wine here, a dance there and unruly behavior comes out.

Goldoni’s comedies, a famous Venetian theatre writer of the 1700s and the Commedia Dell’Arte, based on improvisation on stage, made possible all the mockery and ridicule of public figures and government officials through masks and costumes. Plays of Commedia dell’Arte are still fascinating and alive in the arts of Italian theatre.

Here in the States, Carnevale is well known in New Orleans, no other state celebrates it, but in my circle of people, there is a large communities of Italian culture lovers who honor Carnevale as one of the many excuses to celebrate life. The other day I said that dressing up is fun, cheerful and erases all the spider webs from the brain. For one or two days we can forget all the troubles.

For the group, I made the friable “chiacchiere” traditional Venetian cookies, it translates in chit-chat as they seem to make The sound of people chit-chatting. The recipe is below.

Chiacchiere Carnevale Cookies

Double all the ingredients by one to make any quantity you want.

1 egg, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 tablespoon anice, limoncello, orange liqueur, or anything citrus liqueur,  
grated lemon skin, 1 pinch of salt, 5.oz. flour + flour to work the dough on the wood board later, 1 tablespoon of baking powder.
Mix everything, make a ball, rest dough 30 min in plastic wrap on the counter.
Roll the dough flat about 1/4”, cut strips in the bias, then form any shapes you like, even a mask shape. I knotted my chiacchiere. Fry in vegetable oil or bake at 375 F. for 12-15 minutes. Add powder sugar as soon as the chiacchiere come out of the fryer or the oven. 

Enjoy the video in Venice Carnevale 2023.

Off I go to another maskerade party. Happy Mardi Gras. Ciao,

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Valentina Cirasola is an interior-fashion consultant, author of 6 published books, a storyteller, and a blogger of many years. Her books are non-fictional practical ideas to apply in the home, fashion, cooking and travel.
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