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.
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
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)