And so is eating fried pastries, dressing up in colorful costume, throwing confetti and being silly at any age. This year, carnevale has been pushed forward, because of the late Easter. But my annual revelry has already begun.
Image © mammafelice.it
As a child back then and equally as a mother now, I look forward to the advent of carnevale not only because dressing up in costumes and make-up is fun, but also because at this time of year we are blessed with the traditional pastries called frappe.
What I grew up calling frappe go by an absurd variety of other regional names. Frappe means 'tassels,' but in Toscana they are called cenci, 'rags.' Southern chiacchiere means 'gossip,' nastri are 'ribbons,' bugie are 'lies,' lattughe means 'lettuce leaves.' Other local names include cròstoli (in Ferrara, Veneto, Trentino, Friuli), gale or galàni (in Venezia and Padova), intrigoni, lasagne, pampuglie, rosoni or sfrappole (in Emilia Romagna), cioffe (in Sulmona and central Abruzzo), and sfrappe in the Marche region. In the English speaking world I've heard them called lovers' knots.
These particular holiday fritters are crisp ribbons of rolled dough, dusted with powdered sugar. And just like their multiple names, the different incarnations are cut and shaped differently before being fried. Some are squared, diamond or irregular-shaped, some are tied into a loose knot. Some are light as a feather, others chewy and baked rather than deep-fried.
I'm warning you though–whatever their name, size or shape–frappe induce chain eating.
300 g (2 1/2 cups) flour, possibly "00" + more for dusting
100 g (1/2 cup) butter, softened
100 g (1/2 cup) sugar
Pinch of salt (if you're using unsalted butter)
1 packet of vanilla extract
Oil for frying
Mix the flour, sugar and a pinch of salt and shape into a volcano mound. Drop the eggs, butter and the vanilla extract in the crater and begin working the ingredients with your fingers to obtain a soft, supple dough.
Roll out the dough on a wooden work surface dusted with flour and a rolling pin, flattening it out to 1/8-inch in thickness. Cut flattened dough into strips using a sharp paring knife, or a pastry cutter, and deep fry small batches in plenty vegetable oil.
Remove from the frying oil with a slotted spoon and rest them on paper towels to absorb excess grease. When completely cool, dust them with confectioners' sugar, and serve wearing a domino mask.