Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Carnevale and Chiacchiere

These fried treats - also called frappe, cenci, crostoli, galani or other names depending on the region - are typically made at Carnevale time in Italy.
Carnevale is celebrated all over Italy, with parties and costume parades leading up to the solemn 40-day lenten period that starts on Ash Wednesday. While the word Carnevale means a farewell to meat, similarly "Mardi Gras" which is celebrated most famously in New Orleans, translates to "Fat Tuesday." It's a time when anything goes, including decadent desserts and bawdy behavior. It's amazing how raucous some people behave when they don a mask!

Chiacchiere or other fried sweets such as castagnole, are available in bakery shops all over Italy during the Carnevale period. This recipe comes to you via my friend Titty, who made them recently for a meeting of my Italian chit-chat group called "Le Matte" (the crazy ladies). Since the word chiacchiere literally means "chit-chat," it was most apropos.


1 cup flour, or more if needed
1 T. softened butter
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 shotglass of either grappa or dry white wine
pinch of salt
powdered sugar or honey

Put the flour on a board and make a well - or put the flour in a bowl. Add the eggs, butter, grappa or wine, and salt and start mixing with a fork or by hand. Knead until you get a soft and smooth dough. Let it rest for at least 1/2 hour and stretch out with a rolling pin to the thickness of a coin. Cut into strips or desired shape and deep fry in vegetable oil. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle when cool with powdered sugar or honey.

Scroll down the photos below to get a glimpse of Carnevale in Venice, where I shot these pictures two years ago. They'll give you some idea of why it's the most well-known Carnevale in Europe.

Poster Announcing "Carnevale IS Venice"

Amazing Peacock Lady

Even the Little Ones Join in the Merriment

A Poignant Couple in Piazza San Marco

A Jester and Tetrarchs near the Doge's Palace

Visions in Purple and Red

A Tranquil Tableau

Peachy 17th C. couple

Golden Duo

Klimt wannabe

Ciaochowlinda and husband (l'ingeniere) and friends Ellen and Albert in Venice
(I'm laughing to myself just thinking of the fun time we had together that year with our crazy husbands and their fifty-cent makeshift masks)


  1. Wow,these look absolutely delicious! Your photographs are just gorgeous!

  2. Oh my gosh I'm so jealous!! I want to visit Italy so bad, these pictures are wonderful!

  3. My grandmother used to make those and called them Bows. I never learned how to make them but my cousin's wife did. They are my cousin's favorite cookies that she made.

  4. OMG, my grandmother used to make these for us! I have never tried to make them but I'm going to now!

  5. These sweets treats sound nice and simple and good! Nice photos!

  6. What great pictures! The Chiacchiere look like so much to make.

  7. These look SOOOOO yummy and I'm sure worth every bite of the extra cals.

  8. I think I could eat a 100 of them! Beautiful!

  9. That looks like such a wonderful time in Venice! I didn't realize Carnivale was such a big deal there. And fried dough? I'm up for that anytime!

  10. Sounds like you have good fun at your "chit-chat" groups. What a lovely thing to bring along. We had some "lies" the other day (bought) - they were as light as a feather.

    What stunning photos of the carneval. (Are you sure Albert isn't Walter Matthau? He's got that look.)

  11. wow, what an amazing outfits. its looks like a lot of fun!

  12. Wow, these look absolutely yummie:)!!! What a couple of lovely pictures!

  13. Nice your blog! bellissime le foto!
    greetings from south of Italy : Apulia!