The village of Frattura Vecchia (in the Marsican area of the Abruzzi Region) was build on a fracture – nomen omen: frattura means crack, crevice – caused by an earthquake in prehistoric times, that also blocked the Sagittario River and formed the Lake of Scanno (the heart-shaped lake). … The Ghost Town of Frattura Vecchia near Scanno
“Chiacchiere” are a crunchy and crumbly holidays pastry sheets, usually made during Carnival time. Their names change in almost every Italian region: chiacchiere (i.e. small talk) and lattughe (i.e. “lettuce”) in Lombardy, cenci (“rags”) and donzelle (“damsels”) in Tuscany, frappe and sfrappole in Emilia, cròstroli in Trentino, galani e gale in Veneto, bugie (“lies”) in Piedmont, as well as rosoni, lasagne in Abruzzo.
Their origins dates back to the Roman period, when pastries named “frictilia” were fried and offered during Saturnalia, one of the pagan rites that are supposed to be the roots of Carnival. Frictilia were served to the feasting people on the streets, were easy to cook in great amounts at a very low cost. Frictilia custom reached our times, with little changes to the basic recipe and to the local traditions.
Basic “Chiacchiere” are fried zig-zagged stripes of pastry, dusted with powdered sugar; but honey, cocoa and alchermes can be used, too. They can be served with dark chocolate, or with mascarpone or zabaglione cream. In the past, also with “sanguinaccio” – a sweet blood pudding made of pork blood, chocolate and orange zest.
They come in many shapes: knots, bows, or in rectangular shape with a central slit or even stuffed – just like ravioli – with marmalade or chocolate.
Cooking with Appetibilis :: Sara Scutti's Carnival Chiacchiere
500 gr of wheat flour
70 gr of sugar
50 gr of butter
3 medium-size eggs
6 gr of cake baking powder
1 shot glass of anisette liqueur (about 30 gr)
Peel of 1 orange
1 egg yolk
Orange marmalade (or other)
Peanut oil q.s.
Powdered sugar q.s.
Let’s start with the dough – Sift the flour with baking powder, add eggs, sugar, softened butter, anisette liqueur and the orange zest. Knead the ingredients until you get a smooth dough and let rest for about 30 minutes. Divide the dough into two parts.
For classic “Chiacchiere: – Roll out one part until you get a 2-3 mm thick sheet; use a pastry wheel to cut rectangular shapes about 5×10 cm; in the middle of each rectangle cut a 5-6 cm slit. In order to get the “bow” shape, insert the short edge into the cut.
For “Sweet ravioli” – Roll out the dough until you get a wide rectangle and cut long strips. Place some jam in tiny heaps, fold the strip onto the longer edge to seal the ravioli and cut them out with the pastry wheel.
Frying – Heat a generous amount of peanut oil into a high pot, fry the “chiacchiere” until they turn into a golden color.
Drain them from extra oil on a kitchen towel (or paper towel) and let cool. Dust with powdered sugar and serve. (Mine were served with a mascarpone cream).
When portable phones became popular, callers did not say “How are you?” any more but “Where are you?”
Being somewhere else from the landline phone device was (then) so weird that the first question did not concern how you were but rather the place you were answering from.
Twenty-some years later, with our ubiquitous smartphones in our hands, we should change the question once more and ask “What are you having for lunch/dinner?”. If you have not realized it yet, most of the time people use their smartphones for taking pictures of food.
Browsing through any profile (may it be Facebook, Instagram or even LinkedIn) you can be sure to find pics of food. There is nothing wrong about that. I mean, if you’re in Australia and you are about to bite into some witchety grubs (i.e. larvae of the cossid moth Endoxyla leucomochla) perhaps your main concern will be to take a snap of your snack and inform your dear ones that you will survive that faceful ordeal (by the way, larvae taste vaguely of almonds and, believe it or not, they are one of the most sought-after food among Aborigines).
The point is how good are the pictures we take in order to arouse interest, curiosity or pleasure, because more often than not the shots we see on line are blurry, too dark or over-exposed, photobombed or at least with a dozen of undesired elements that ruin the picture.
Appetibilis Team and Ristorante Spazio 33 in Lanciano (a lovely town in Abruzzo) tried to give some useful tips for amateur food photographers. This was not meant to be a photography course, rather an informal evening with people who are willing to improve their photography techniques.
At the cosy and intimate venue of Spazio 33, customers found a miniature photographic set, some basic photographic gear and were asked to take pictures of the dishes they were going to have.
Between some “Brussels sprouts with gorgonzola cheese, grapes and almonds” and a mouth-watering heap of “tortellini stuffed with porcini mushroom scented with lavender buds”, guests challenged themselves with lights, exposures and layouts.
People had the chance to take snaps of “carne salada (i.e. salted meat) carpaccio topped with Tropea onion chutney and marsala”. Not bad, eh?
The good thing about shooting food is that it is does not move (unless you are having witchety grubs) and after the shot, you will actually “enjoy” it. The bad thing is that lights, shadows and reflection on dishes and props will be difficult to manage if you do not master the basics of food photography.
Appetibilis team tried to give some tips on how to make the snaps really enticing for all those who did not have the luck to try the real dishes.
Did we succeed in doing so?
November is usually a dull month, it does not boast the ravishing ripe golden light of October, nor does it bring the cheer expectations of December and the Holiday season. But still, November has its thrill. Especially in Abruzzo.
… Olive-picking in Abruzzo
Di tutte le stagioni, l’autunno è quella che offre di più all’uomo e chiede di meno. (Hal Borland)
One of the most nonsensical (and funniest) scenes from Jim Jarmusch’s movie Down by Law (Daunbailò for Italian cinema lovers) is when our Oscar-winning director Roberto Benigni takes his notebook out of his pocket (it was an actual notebook, not a computer!) and gets confused between scream and ice cream. … We all scream for (Camplone) ice cream!