Carnevale: Food traditions from Italy

21 Feb 2020
Carnevale: Food traditions from Italy

Carnevale is one of Italy’s biggest winter festivals.

Just like everything in Italy, there are unique Carnivale traditions from north to south. There are stand out celebrations held in Venice and Viareggio (Tuscany). In Venice, there are elaborate parties and fancy masquerade balls, scheduled concerts and entertainment, boat parades, streets filled with costumed characters and street performers and of course delicious food stalls. In Viareggio (Tuscany), there are massive float parades with people in costume and dancing to music. At the heart of the parades in Viareggio are floats made of papier mâché.

I have mentioned the two cities, however there are great Carnevale celebrations all around Italy with the festive spirit drawing everyone to host costume parties and enjoy a feast together. The Carnevale celebrations have started and are about to peak this weekend! Read our blog to discover what is Carnevale and Food traditions from Italy.

What is Carnevale?

On the 25 February 2020, Carnevale (also known as Carnival, Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday and Shrove Tuesday) is celebrated in Italy and many places around the world. It represents the last period of feasting and final celebration before the restrictions of Ash Wednesday and Lent leading up to Easter. Many Italian towns celebrate the weekend before the day of Carnevale, other cities hold events lasting two weeks and even one month beforehand and end on Carnevale. Children particularly love Carnevale for the face painting and dressing in costume. Now is the time not only for children but adults to dress up, eat, drink, dance and have fun.

What food is eaten at Carnevale?

Usually I am a fan of healthier cooking methods such as baking rather than frying. On occasion, I cook the odd fried recipe. Carnevale is a time of joy and invites us to indulge in the sweetest of sweets to celebrate. As it turns out, traditional Carnevale desserts are all fried. Historically Carnevale desserts were fried in lard but today they are fried in oil with not many healthy alternatives in sight. Of course, you could choose to oven bake these recipes, but we all know that the result would not be the same. Check out our latest post Baking Essentials: Equipment for every Italian cook for a guide on the best baking equipment!
Here are a selection of the best traditional desserts for Carnevale. Even if you don’t live in Italy, there is nothing to stop you from hosting a fancy dress party or cook a Carnevale inspired dessert. Whatever you choose to cook, the secret ingredient is to make it fun! Which recipe will you choose to cook?

Crostoli (Chiacchiere) di Carnevale1.Crostoli (Chiacchiere) di Carnevale

Our Crostoli biscuits or Chiacchiere di Carnevale are ribbons of fried dough dusted with icing sugar. These light and crispy delicious biscuits are the perfect recipe to go with an Italian coffee – they will have you asking for more!

Graffe Napoletane (Italian donuts)

2.Graffe Napoletane (Italian donuts)
Graffe Napoletane are sweet, sugar-coated fried donuts with a potato, flour and zesty base. They are a typical Neapolitan staple of Carnevale festivities and are absolutely delicious! Try our authentic recipe for Graffe today!





3.Sfingi Siciliani (Sicilian style doughnuts)
Sfingi Siciliani known also as Zeppole, are a classic Italian dessert of simple fried, crispy dough, flavoured with cinnamon and sultanas and then coated sugar. This recipe will take you to Sicily!

Crespelle di San Giuseppe

4.Crespelle di San Giuseppe
Make your mouth water with our Crespelle di San Giuseppe recipe. Filled with Italian custard, this recipe will fast become a favourite.





Blueberry and ricotta pancakes

5.Blueberry and ricotta pancakes
Start your day with something extra special. Our Blueberry and ricotta pancakes not only have a hint of lemon and are full of juicy blueberries but are the fluffiest pancakes you have ever tasted.
Pignuccata Siciliana6.Pignuccata Siciliana
Pignuccata Siciliana or Struffoli are little balls of fried dough with drizzled honey and topped with sprinkles. We say, don’t wait for a real celebration to enjoy it. Make it today!





When you’re done, check out our latest post Baking Essentials: Equipment for every Italian cook for a guide on the best baking equipment! These are some of the dishes that represent traditional Italian Carnevale celebrations at the table. What dish best represents Carnevale at your table? Please write a review and let us know!

Happy Cooking X

Vanessa Bottaro

Author, Founder and Creative Director at Italian Spoon
In my eyes, Italian cuisine is love on a plate.

Vanessa is Creative Director of the Italian Spoon website and Author of The Italian entertaining cookbook, a collection of home-style Italian recipes and tips for entertaining in true Italian-style. In addition to cooking and taking photographs, Vanessa writes the recipes and blogs to bring the love of Italian cooking to life! The collection of recipes and blogs on the website have been inspired by travels to Italy and desire to share what she has learnt from the great ‘Mamma’s and ‘Nonna’s in her life!

Vanessa is an entrepreneur and wife to husband Simone and the mother of two beautiful kids Dante and Mia. Even so she was born and lives in Melbourne Australia, Vanessa has a deep connection to Italy. Perhaps it is the food, or maybe it is because it is the place where Vanessa met the love of her life, Simone to whom she has been happily married for so many years.
Vanessa Bottaro

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