Buona festa! Don your identity-hiding masks because today is Martedì Grasso or Fat Tuesday, the last day of Carnevale. Similar to the fried dough Americans consume at Italian-American street festivals, chiacchiere di Carnevale, pictured, are a crunchy, sweet, fried dough garnished with powdered sugar. It is believed that the ancient Romans created this recipe for their Saturnalia feast, a seven-day festival which is the equivalent to today’s Carnevale (The bawdy Saturnalia was annually celebrated during the winter solstice from the 17th to the 23th of December. NB the topsy-turvy party evolved (and over the centuries the dates were moved so not to confuse and disturb the sanctity of Christmas) into today’s pre-Lent Carnevale.).
The label “chiacchiere” originates from Naples, where another legend about this fried mixture of flour, eggs, butter, and some kind of sweet wine exists. During the 19th century, the Queen of Savoy was seeking a sweet finger-food to offer her guests while they chatted. Her pastry chef reimagined and glorified the crud fried dough and named it chiacchiere (meaning “to chat”). Today, the sweet is delighted throughout Italy and possesses various regional names. In the end, its brilliance is in its simplicity, in my case, with a caffè macchiato.