The Carnival of Venice

The Carnival of Venice, nevertheless the most magnificent, is surely one of the most famous in the world thanks to its fascinating atmosphere which hide some shadow of mystery in its long history. The venetian Carnival in fact has its deeper origins in the Ancient Rome celebrations, ancestral worships which marked the passage from the cold winter to the colorful spring: in this framework we find the spirit, reassumed in the latin witty remark “Once a year not having brake is permitted”, which reigns in the great feast. In many other cultures it is found out that during different periods, they used to celebrate with banquets and dances using masks. The Carnival led the venetian people to set aside their occupations and preoccupations to dedicate themselves to fun: the entertainment was large, with jugglers, acrobats and clowns; during the show ambulants used to sell dried fruit, chestnuts and “fritòle” (frittelle, a sort of pancake) and sweets made with spices from the far and Magic Orient.



The traditional sweets of the venetian Carnival are very famous and appreciated by the international tourism and Venetians themselves: in fact during the celebrations Venice is permeated by the delicious cakes scent, creating an ambience which is sweet and lively at the same time. The origins of the recipes are very ancient and the numerous variations attest the several traditions and cultures of which Venice is spokeswoman during these big and intoxicant party.


The most revised recipe is “frittella”, which can be cooked in the furnace or fried, with or without raisin, with zabaione or cream: but the original and unquestionable queen is the venetian frittella, soft and delicate, without any additions, leaving the real historical taste of this cake. During the Republic of Venice, the so-called fritòleri took care of the frittelle production, together in a guild which guaranteed both the rights succession to children and the exclusive production in a specific area: and so “fritella” became art! A mixture of eggs, sugar, flour and pine nuts was prepared in large wooden tables and then was fried in bedpan with oil or butter and in the end served sprinkled of sugar in big dishes.


However the oldest recipe is another one, so-called “galani”in venetian dialect: during the Saturnali celebration, the romans used the same mixture of the “lasagne” in order to create sweets very similar to the actual “galani”, by frying in pork fat and sugaring. In the several Italian districts there are, also in this kind of dessert, little differences and it is important to point out the large quantity of names for a sweet which is practically the same. For example in Naples they are called “chiacchiere” (that is “chatting” in Italian), this name comes out from a nice story : the queen Savoia in the Neapolitan court, during a splendid party, stopped chatting to ask the cooker Raffaele Esposito to prepare a little dessert because she was a little hungry, and so born the appellation “chiacchiere”.


Other sweets symbols for the Carnival are the “castagnole”, “little chestnuts” in Italian, in fact the term comes from its little dimension and its shape that reminds a chestnuts. This whim, mainly diffused in the North of Italy, has closer origins: for the first time we found a recipe in a XVIII century manuscript, which already has four version, the most common provides simple sphere of sweet mixture cooked in scalding oil.


If you will have the lucky to be in Venice during the Carnival celebration, you could not refrain from indulging some whims, tasting the history of this magic city.