Yesterday it was Mardi Gras. I know in UK there is nothing to celebrate about and it’s all about Halloween instead…but we are Italians and maybe sometimes we do it better! 😉 All right, let’s see what’s the difference between the two:
Halloween is more about the festival of the dead and it should be mainly about carving pumpkins into jack-o’-lanterns (named after the phenomenon of strange light flickering over peat bogs… scary!!!) and wearing scary – indeed – masks. Carnevale, historically, is more a festive season which occurs immediately before Lent. Traditionally during Lent, no parties or other celebrations were held, and people refrained from eating rich foods, such as meat, dairy, fats and sugar. In the days before Lent, all rich food and drink had to be disposed of. Therefore the consumption of this, in a giant party that involved the whole community, is thought to be the origin of Carnival. Don’t really know why people started to wear masks, but nowadays it’s all about fun, jokes, dancing and eating… of course. I love Carnevale and now with these two little monkeys in our life I love it even more.
We held a big Mardi Gras Party at Casa Mia yesterday, lots of fun, music and entertainment with Mr Lolly http://www.mrlollysparties.co.uk/ Everyone loved his performance – NOT ONLY KIDS! – and he caused quite a buzz in the London – King’s Road area!!
In Italy you cannot celebrate Carnevale without ‘Chiacchiere’ (in Rome they call it ‘Frappe’). During Carnival time in fact, which goes from the Thursday before the Ash Wednesday (day when Lent starts) to the Tuesday right before the Ash Wednesday, you find Chiacchiere everywhere. You eat so much of it that you are totally fed up until the year after…
We couldn’t help but trying our best to make our own home made Chiacchiere. They were pretty good, indeed.
500 gr plain flour
60 gr butter
50 gr caster suger
80 gr yolk
3 tbls white wine
30 gr melted butter
Icing sugar for dusting
1,5 litre of vegetable oil for frying
In a round bowl mix the flour, the butter and the sugar. Add egg’s yolks and the eggs. Add the white wine by inclusion until you have a quite elastic dough. Cling film it and rest in the refrigerator for at least one hour. Line the dough in a rectangular shape, brush it with the melted butter, fold it, line it and brush it again. For three times. The last time, you need a thin dough, you can help yourself with a pasta maker if you have one. Then, with a ravioli wheel – or a pizza wheel, the ravioli’s one is better for your final decor – cut some slices approx 18/20 cm long and 3 cm wide. Tie them up to form a knot. (Alternatively, you can cut pieces 6cm wide and 12/13cm long, and you have to cut them in the middle a little bit). Cover these knots with cling film, while you have your oil ready to fry.
Once the frying oil is very very hot, try first with a little bit of dough, deep fry your Chiacchiere until they are golden brown and then put them to drain out the oil in excess on kitchen paper. The earlier your oil is ready – the better it is, otherwise your dough gets too dry and the Chiacchiere won’t blow up while cooking – which is something you want to happen. At the same time it’s important not to achieve the smoke point, which is the temperature at which the oil begins to break down to glycerol and free fatty acides, and produce bluish smoke. So, since deep frying is a very high temperature process, it requires a fat with a high smoke point. Usually we use corn oil. In South of Italy, traditional recipes suggest olive oil for deep frying, quite expensive here in London …and anyhow better not to use the extravergine one because it is too scented.
When the Chiacchiere are ready, cool them down and dust with icing sugar before serving.