Posts Tagged ‘Carnevale in Italy’

Classic Treats for Carnevale

February 8, 2010

Fresh Cenci: the Cookies of Carnevale

Italians celebrate everything with food and Carnevale is no exception. One of the simplest joys of the Carnevale season in Italy is cenci.  These are fried cookies that are available in every pasticceria and bar and grandmother’s kitchen.  Not only are they easy to make, but they also happen to be highly addictive…be forewarned if you happen to make these and plop yourself in front of the TV with a DVD it is very possible to finish the whole batch.  It’s more possible to finish the whole batch if you take the bottle of Vin Santo with you from the kitchen to the TV.

This is one of those recipes that also offers the happy convenience that you likely have virtually everything in your kitchen already…maybe not the Vin Santo, but then you have an excuse to go buy more wine.


1   cup all-purpose flour
3   tbs butter (melted)
2   tbs granulated sugar
1   egg
2   tbs Vin Santo (you can substitute rum)
1   tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
Oil for frying (I like sunflower)
Confectioners sugar
Place the flour in a medium-sized bowl  and add the other ingredients slowly, mixing well. Form a dough and knead the dough for a minute or two. Cover the dough with cellophane and allow to rest for an hour. Roll the dough out onto a lightly floured board until thin.  Using a fluted pasty wheel, cut  the pastry into strips, or  simply use a knife and cut into strips about 8 inches long and 1/2 inch wide, and tie each strip into a knot.  Heat your oil to 375F and fry the strips a few at a time until golden.
As you remove from the oil, place the cookies on a plate covered with paper towels to absorb any excess oil.  When they have dried slightly, sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar.
These cookies do not have a long lifespan, therefore you will be forced to consume them rapidly…within two days…and hopefully with a tasty Vin Santo.
Buona Festa and enjoy Mardi Gras!!!

Carnevale in Italy

February 7, 2010

Venetian Carnevale Masks are Gorgeous

Carnevale in Italy is a celebration that lasts the entire duration of the weeks leading up to Lent.  Since even the nominally Catholic in Italy generally give up something for Lent the last hurrah celebrations that Carnevale epitomizes are amazing here.  Any of the “vices” that are likely to be sacrificed for Lent are practiced in abundance until the sun rises on Ash Wednesday.

Whether your vice of choice is wine, cheese, meat, cookies, chocolate or just creating general mayhem, you will be surrounded by fellow “villians” at every turn.  What a fabulous way to lead up to a fast of any type.  There are parties for three weeks in most places, with the final Saturday and Sunday being the biggest. (People still have to go to work on Ash Wednesday so Fat Tuesday is usually semi-tame.

In my opinion the two best places to attend Carnevale are Venice and Viareggio, even though other cities have celebrations, these two stand out.  Most people are familiar with Venice’s reputation as a fantastic place to spend these weeks,  the centuries of masked balls, the gorgeous Venetian Carnevale masks and the deliciously wicked and decadent parties are well known.  But if you are traveling and do not have an invite to a private party it’s a little like window shopping with an empty wallet.  If you do have an invite for a ball or party, by all means deck yourself out as amazingly as possible and get ready for a party that will satiate all five senses.

If you are traveling and won’t be arriving in time to secure an invitation in Venice, head to Tuscany and make sure to book a hotel room in Viareggio.  The trains stop too early to enjoy the festivities and you do not want to be driving those roads at that time.  The parade that is put on on the weekends is unmissable…read up on a little Italian politics before coming and watch the way they skewer their politicians in paper mache.  Eat up everything the street vendors and restaurants have to offer and then head to the discos that are towards the northern end of the city…and don’t plan on sleeping until sunrise.