Carnival Confectionaries

Castagnole di carnevale and frittele.

Carnival, carnevale in Italian, translates to “farewell to meat” and marks the festivities before Lent (the 40 days of fasting before Easter in the Catholic religion, this year starting on February 17). Traditionally, one had to use up all the fat and sugar (luxury items), therefore the treats served during this period are deep fried. There is one type called “Castagnole di Carnevale” which translates to “mardi gras chestnuts” — donut holes. Also called “frittele.” Another fried dough is the “zeppole” which is a lump of fried dough.

The lasagne style fried dough are called “cenci” which means “tatters” as they look like tatters. There are other names for these (just there are many names for the same type of pasta depending on the region) including “frappe (commonly called this in Rome), chiacchiere, bugie, and guanti.”

Frittele, fried lasagne dusted with sugar.

As it is, Italians eat sweet things for breakfast. Many do not eat very much at all for breakfast. Some even considered the milk in their coffee to be breakfast…

Savory lasagne at my local.

While Italians eat lasagne all year round, it is served more during this “farewell to meat” period than at other times of the year. Another thing I noticed about lasagne in Rome is that it’s not very saucy, although during carnival it is meatier. Lasagna with an A at the end is one piece of lasagna. No one wants that!

“Turron” Cake for the Lord of Miracles

IMG_0450In Peru, in October, the Lord of Miracles (el Señor de los Milagros) is celebrated with a cake called a “turrón de Doña Pepa” which is a type of shortcake, with hints of anise and sticky with honey, covered in color sprinkles and stars. In the 17th century, during an earthquake which leveled Lima, one painting of Jesus remained intact. Other miracles were attributed to this painting and people began to venerate it. Every year, during October, this painting is taken on processions (with the faithful wearing purple and asking for miracles) in the streets of Lima.

And people eat turrón. It is available all year round but look for this heavy weight to make its appearance everywhere in October.