This is my treat day and since in Italy it’s Carnival I’ve decided to prepare a traditional Italian Carnival dessert: turtlitt. This name comes from local dialect and it means stuffed tortelli or dumplings. Turtlitt are from Piacenza, the city where I come from. It’s in Emilia Romagna, a region of Northern Italy. They are delicious and well suited to all ages.
Nowadays, many Carnival traditions have vanished or changed, but fried pastries are still common in Fat Tuesday cookery (in Italian: martedì grasso, referring to the practice of the last night of eating richer, fatty foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season). Spoonfuls of dough fried in oil take the shape of small balls, the so-called frittelle or castagnole. Also chiacchiere (meaning chatter ~ gossip ~ chit chat) are familiar all over Italy during Carnival, and they assume many different names: frappe (tassels) in Rome, sfrappe in the region of Marche, flappe in central Italy, cenci (rags) in Tuscany, bugie (lies) in Piemonte, sfrappole in Emilia, nastri delle suore (ribbons of the nuns) in Emilia and gigi in Sicily.
Italy has many celebrations for Carnival but Venice and Viareggio hold the biggest and most elaborate Carnival festivals.
The Venice Carnival is really a magical event. This event marks the beginning of the Spring season. During Venice Carnival you can see people in amazing costumes wandering around the city in a fairy tale atmosphere.
Viareggio, on the Tuscany coast, has one of the biggest Carnival celebrations in Italy. Viareggio Carnival instead is known for its giant, allegorical paper maché floats used in parades. I’m sure you recognize the ones in this picture…
The gastronomy of Italian Carnival is very rich in fats and sweets. I know what you are thinking. I don’t want to eat fried food either. I never eat fry food. I’m not used to eat it anymore and even the smell annoys me… except for French fries… 😉
Turtlitt are fried too but I cook them in the oven and they come out perfectly. They have a filling made of amaretti (crunchy almond macaroons), cocoa powder, plum jam and chestnuts. Yummy!
I admit that they are not easy to prepare. They need practice and I tried twice before seeing a decent result. In my next post you’ll find the recipe and the picture (curious, uh?) with all my tips in order to avoid the same mistakes I did. Once you have learned how to do it, it will be very simple and it will take only 10 minutes.
I’m so proud of this post… Turtlitt from Piacenza will finally become famous overseas. Woo hoo!