Food Fair-lure… The Tragedy of the Chiacchiere

While originating from, and still being associated with Venezia, chiacchiere are eaten all around the Italian peninsula, under a variety of names. These fried ribbons of lightly sweetened pastry, dusted with icing sugar, are eaten during the carnevale, and are freshly fried by bakeries around the city during that time.

Just getting started – the dough was suspiciously dry, but I trusted the Nonna who supplied the recipe for the book I used to know her stuff. She betrayed me, unfortunately.

However, the original chiacchiere trace their origins to ancient Rome, where these pastries were fried in pig fat as an offering to the fertility gods, in order to improve chances of bearing their husbands many little Romans.

My choice to prepare the treats was not, surprisingly, to increase my chances of having a brood of children before I turn 22, but to try a method of making deserts I had never tried before: deep frying.

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Again, suspiciously hard to roll… My mamma was watching me, saying that they looked wrong, that I should change the recipe. I ignored her.

My attempt at chiacchiere can only be described as a hilarious failure. I think this may be related to the recipe I used— taken from Le Ricette delle Nonne, it excluded both yeast and milk, which I later found in almost every other recipe for these fried pastries. This would explain why, when I placed my shortbread-like strips into the oil, they completely dissolved, as the (missing) yeast would’ve trapped air bubbles into the pastry, preventing dissolution.

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The burnt flour at the bottom of the pan of oil from the dissolved chiacchiere! Hearts broke around the world.

Thinking quickly, I baked them, creating chiacchiere al forno, which is fortunately a real recipe, but which showed me how recipes can evolve through innovation. Dusting them with icing sugar at the end lent a bit more credibility to my passing them off as real chiacchiere, but the offcuts I and my mamma sampled were declared “edible”.

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They look exactly how they tasted – bland and floury. 

Unfortunately, my chiacchiere did not find success at the Food Fair. I attribute this to the fact that someone else had made chiacchiere, or crostoli as they called them, and had placed their offering right next to mine. Their crostoli were Pinterest-ready, while mine looked decidedly unappetising next to them. I brought the treats home for my family, where they were eventually consumed.

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The icing sugar helped mask my shortcomings. I guess I tried to sugarcoat things.

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