February 16, 2012

Berlingaccio and surviving the snow

When I first came to Italy, it was in September of 1984. That winter was one of the coldest and snowiest winters, which caused the olive trees to freeze and we lost thousands of trees which then sprouted back up from the trunks.

This year may be worse than that winter of 1985.

We were blocked in the house for 10 days ( we don't have chains for our car) and lost our running water for 4 days. Not fun! But, we did have electricity and heat. The pantry was full and we survived.

We were hit lightly compared to those living up in Piemonte and those in Le Marche area and Abruzzo.
Counting our blessings.

The snow is just barely on the hills now, most of it melted and daytime temps are rising. It is still quite cold at night.

The month has been flying by and I missed going to the Carneval in Viareggio to see the floats.
But the one thing I haven't missed are the once a year sweets for carnevale.

This winter I am in the kitchen testing recipes for a friends new restaurant I am consulting for, so we bought both cenci and frittelle di riso. Here is my Russian grandmother's recipe for her "cenci" and my recipe for rice fritters. Both recipes make enough for family and friends, as this is party food!

Today is the beginning of the end of carnevale, called "berlingaccio". The last parades will be this weekend and then we have Martedi Grasso ( Mardi Gras) and Ash Wednesday  ( Mercoledi delle Cenere) when Lent starts.

I always think it is funny, Italians have a special cookie for Lent too, called Quaresimali. Quaresima means Lent.

Since we were out getting sweets, on our way home from Florence today we stopped at one of Florence's oldest pastry shops, Gualtieri, famous for his Iris Cake. The recipe is only made there and has been kept a secret for over 100 years.

Enjoy your week of Carnevale where ever you are- and whip up some sweets to celebrate.


  1. Great post, and great snow pictures. In spain also we have a whole cookbook of lent recipes, buñuelos caldo de vigilia (chickpea stew) or garlich soup are the most popular.

  2. Beautiful snow pictures

  3. OMG, I just realized I haven't had any frappe yet this year. I better get a move on!

  4. Wow, great pics! I sit inside too, but in aircondiontioning as the heat and humidity of our tropical summer is unbearable. But we have all the commodities. It must be terrible to not have running water! I hope to be in Florence in October. My family and I are planning a 3 week trip to Italy to visit relatives and take in the sights. We are planning 4 nights in Rome and 2 nights in Florence. I must vist this pastry shop!

  5. The selection of foods are looks delicious. It is good for winter paired with a cup of coffee or hot chocolate. I also want to try this iris cake.

  6. The photos from friends in Montisi and that area have been Amazing! I am glad to see that it is beginning to warm a little!
    Stay warm~

  7. I missed the "Frittelle di riso" and "Cenci" of my mum this year! ...but I had Pancakes here in Uk!!
    ...your pictures are really nice!!

  8. Che buone le frittelle e i Galani, come li chiamiamo a Venezia. Mi manca proprio il Carnevale !

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