Tomorrow is Martedi Grasso – the culmination of all the Carnevale festivities which keep people celebrating in Italy after Christmas and New Year until Ash Wednesday. I studied Latin until I was 18 but I had been in Rome several years before I realised Carnevale literally means ‘Farewell meat’. Eggs too were renounced for Lent which is why we have Pancake Tuesday in the UK, and hard-boiled eggs in various Italian timballi and the great Neapolitan lasagna di Carnivale. In Ferentino, which is in the Ciociara, meat does not dominate the daily menu, but at Carnevale we have lots of fried pastries.
The round balls, called castagnole in the rest of Italy because they vaguely resemble chestnuts are known here as cecamarini or husband- blinders. They are very easy to make and seem an easy way of distracting a husband from some misdemeanor.
The recipes for those who need it !
Cecamariti for Carnevale
450g cake flour
10 g baking powder
120 g sugar
75 g extra virgin olive oil
75 g Strega or other liqueur
1 lemon grated
Seeds from vanilla pod
Granulated sugar for dusting
Oil for frying
Mix together milk, eggs, oil and liqueur. Stir in the sieved flour and baking powder, lemon zest and vanilla to make a smooth mixture.
Heat the oil to 175 .C. and using two spoons make small balls and fry in batches.
Drain on paper and dust with granulated sugar.