Anne's Blog

  • peppa-and-family

Carnevale, Castagnole  and Other Pleasures

Date: April 6, 2012 - categories: , , - Leave your thoughts

With January 17th and the Feast of St. Anthony, Carnevale (Mardi Gras) took over here in Italy and will reign until martedì grasso (“fat Tuesday,” the day before the beginning of Lent on Ash Wednesday). Our family knows it’s Carnevale time when Peppa comes visiting with the traditional sweet, castagnole ((recipe below). I remember Mattia’s enthusiasm especially for her castagnole:

peppa-struffoli

Keegan, Mattia and Giulia are fans of Peppa’s Carnevale sweets, castagnole

Peppa likes to douse hers with alchermes, a sweet red liqueur of rosewater and spices, originating in Persia. Giuseppa drizzles honey on the struffoli (larger castagnole) she makes for her husband, Paolo – before they head out for a Saturday night of ballroom dancing.

strufoli

Peppa, proud of her castagnole

Many years ago when we worked the land, I remember our farm neighbors gathering in the largest farmhouse kitchen on week-end nights for Carnevale ballroom dancing, the farm women bringing bowls of just-made castagnole, tied up in a clean dishtowel. An accordian player would be sitting on a chair put on a table – so all could see him – as couples danced around him. All chipped in a few coins to pay him.

music

Everyone paid a few coins for the accordian player at the rural dancing evenings

And nowadays on Saturday nights during Carnevale, dance halls in the rural areas fill up as couples of all ages swirl around the dance floor in waltz, fox trot, mazurka, tango and polka to live orchestra music, feasting on many courses in the adjacent dining room during the evening. Dessert? Le castagnole and maybe frappe’, a ruffled ribbon of dough, fried and then dipped in sugar or honey or alchermes liqueur.

dancing-all-night

dancing-all-night-2

dancing-all-night-3

castagnole-2

Castagnole

 

castagnole

frappe-2

Frappe

These traditional sweets are piled on trays now in Umbrian bakeries but our local farmwomen neighbors still make castagnole on their woodstoves.

….after all, Carnevale is equated with pleasures of all types. The name derives from the Latin “carnem levare,” a medieval expression which indicated that period of abstinence (no consumption of meat) prior to Lent (called in Italian “la quaresima”, ie, “the forty days”). Carnevale festivities tie to celebrations of over two thousand years ago, the Roman Saturnali latini, days of transgression of usual rules and regulations – a moment of illicit abandon when citizens could take on completely different social roles and dress (i,e the costumes of later Carnevale celebrations).

During the Christian era, the Roman rituals were transformed but the dressing up in costume – indicating the taking on of a different social role – was picked up again in the sixteenth century. Here in Umbria, on the last two Sundays of Carnevale, town piazzas fill with children in costumes. In Sant’Eraclio (near Foligno), Guardea (near Orvieto), and Montecastrilli (Todi area) fanciful carri allegorici (“floats”) add to the festive spirit. Carnevale celebrations nowadays…

Enjoy the photos of carri allegorici

carnival-cart-5
carnival-cart-1
carnival-cart-2
carnival-cart-3
carnival-cart-4

 

Our farm neighbor Marino shared with me a memory of a Carnevale dancing evening years ago. He was about eighteen, had put on his best clothes and new shoes and was heading quickly over to a neighboring farm for dancing (in the huge kitchen), eager to waltz with the young Chiarina (who would one day be his wife).

chiarina

Chiarina and daughter Rossanna (1976)

Happy voices and accordian music drifted out of the kitchen window, but Marino stopped at the bottom of the farmhouse steps, hands in his pocket, fingering the coins, not sure he had enough for his contribution to the accordian player. He had about twenty-five cents. He turned around and went home, not wishing to make una brutta figura.

marino

Marino (1976)
Thanks to J. Kevin Crocker for his photos

marino

Marino (nowadays)

marino-2

Evening visit of Marino, his uncle Peppe and his papa’, Genuine (1976, in front our our farmhouse fireplace)
Thanks to J. Kevin Crocker for his photos

…..and here’s recipe of a Carnevale sweet for you (delicious all year round):

Castagnole
Ingredients:
8 eggs
8 T of milk
8 T of extra-virgin olive oil
8T of sugar
16 T of flour
1 glass of mistral (an anise liqueur) or rum
grated peel of one lemon
1 t. baking powder
vanilla (optional)
honey
alchermes (a red liqueur of Persian origin of spices, rosewater, anice) – if you cannot find, try substituting with Marsala)

Mix together all ingredients except honey and alchermescon energia! – until forming a well-mixed batter. Add flour as needed or additional milk if needed. Let rest an hour. Put enough sunflower seed or other vegetable oil in saucepan for frying. Drop tablespoonfuls of the batter into boiling oil. Remove when each castagnola is golden, placing on paper towel so as to absorb the oil.
When all the castagnole have been fried, drip honey over them or splash with alchermes.

Note: Years ago, pig lard was used for frying, ie, an animal fat, thus making the castagnole not suitable for consumption after the beginning of Lent.
A tip for frying: keep flame low as frying starts, raising the heat gradually and reaching maximum heat just before removing the castagnole from the oil.

Read more on Carnevale sweets
Read about the Feast of St. Anthony when Carnevale starts
Click here to read about – and see! – the joyous celebration of St. Anthony, near Assisi
Read about ballroom dancing good times during Carnevale
Click here to read about another festival sweet Peppa makes
Read more about Marino, Chiarina and our rural friends here
Click here to read more on Umbria’s festivals
Read about “delectable Deruta” and feasting with Giuseppa

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

 

Privacy Policy

Privacy Italian Legislative Decree n° 196/2003 Under Article 13 of the Italian Legislative Decree no. 196/2003, regulations with regard to the Protection of Personal Data, this is an informative report to all interested parties on the modality of the treatment of personal data, arising from interaction with our website www.annesitaly.com
THE PRINCIPAL FOR DATA TREATMENT During site consultation, personal data referring to identified or identifiable persons can be processed. The principal for data treatment is Anne Robichaud Pian della Pieve Assisi 06081 (PG) Italy. The data will be mainly processed at the mentioned head office by the people responsible for the website or by other people appointed for occasional maintenance operations, provided that their actions conform to of the guarantees enshrined in the Legislative Decree 196/2003.
TYPE OF DATA TREATED
Web navigation The information systems and software procedures required for the functioning of this website, acquire some personal data during their normal service, the transmission of which is implicit in the use of web communication protocols. This information is not collected with the purpose of identifying interested parties, but due to its very nature, the information could lead to user identification through processes and relations with data held by third parties. In this data category there are IP addresses or domain names belonging to computers used by users who connect to the site, addresses with URI (Uniform Resource Identifier) notification of the requested resources, time of the request, used method in submitting the request to the server, dimension of the file obtained in replying, the numeric code mentioning the reply status given by the server (successful reply, error, etc?) and other parameters referred to the operation system and to the user’s information environment. This data is used with the sole purpose of obtaining anonymous statistical information on the use of the site and to check the correct functioning; immediately after processing, the data is erased.
Data voluntarily supplied by the user The voluntary optional and explicit e-mail transmission to the addresses mentioned in this site implies the subsequent acquisition of the sender’s address, necessary to reply to the queries, as well as the other eventual personal data registered in the message.
OPTIONAL PERSONAL DATA SUPPLY Except for the above mentioned navigation data, the user may be asked to supply his own personal data through queries or messages to the email addresses shown in the contact pages. Failure to provide such data may be the cause of the inability to obtain the requested information from the company.
TREATMENT MODALITY The personal data is treated in compliance with the Legislative Decree no. 196/2003 and held only for the time necessary to achieve the aim for which it has been collected. Specific safety measures are taken to prevent any data loss, illicit or incorrect use and unauthorized access.
RIGHTS OF THIRD PARTIES The data subjects are at any time entitled to obtain confirmation as to whether or not data relating to him are held, to know the contents and the origin, to check the correctness, to ask for integration, updating or change (art. 7 Decree Law 196:June 2003). In accordance with the same article, they are entitled to obtain the erasure, conversion into anonymous form or freezing of all data used in breach of the law, to object, on legitimate grounds, to the processing of data relating to him. All requests have to be transmitted to the e-mail address anne@annesitaly.com

Agenzia Viaggi Stoppini in Assisi handles all technical support for my guided visits (bus transportation, organization of meals, etc)