Crazy old carnival / the mattress has been sold / to buy bread and wine / tarallucci and cotechino. / And eating like hell / the mountain of pancakes / he has grown a big belly / that looks like a football. / He drinks, drinks suddenly / his face turns red / then his belly bursts / while he is still eating, he eats. / So Carnival dies / and they give him a funeral, / from the dust he was born / and to dust he returned.
The feast at any cost, the filling up to not being able to anymore with which one reacted to daily hunger in a sort of rebellion that resulted in overeating, led to define the Carnival "The belly party". After, after all, Lent comes: difficult days, in which once lean foods and fasting alternated in memory, it is true, of the forty days spent by Jesus in the desert, but made necessary by having burnt the last food reserves. The little remaining was kept for Holy Week or for some cases of extreme necessity.
I Carnival foods they were full-bodied, consistent, tempting, greedy: they had the taste of provocation, of sin, the taste of rules trampled and broken while the fat sang sizzling on the grill and sugar and honey perfumed the air.
The pig, killed in December, was king right up to the lard and lard with which thick soups, rich timbales and soft sweets are shared, or crispy strips and tender morsels of pasta were fried.
The Tuscan tradition focuses on desserts, By sugars of Fucecchio (dry donuts which, hung in the pantry, were made to last until Lent) to friars di Livorno (sweet fried donuts, empty or filled with cream, reminiscent of a monk's cleric), from berlingozzi which boast a long tradition in Lamporecchio alla flattened Florentine style, from Fried Rice ai Cenci, both spread all over the world.
Le Fried Rice they are a great classic, whose recipe however varies from family to family. They are also prepared for Saint Joseph and have an ancient origin. In fact, they appear for the first time in Libro de arte coquinaria by Mastro Martino, the greatest cook of the 400th century. At the time they were in fact a valuable dessert, reserved for the ruling classes, as they contemplated the use of expensive products such as sugar, rice and almonds.
More or less contemporary the Berlingozzo, a low donut flavored with anise already in use at the court of the Grand Duke Cosimo I. One of the many more or less reliable legends says that on feast days the gluttonous wandered the streets holding it around their necks. As for the name, it seems to derive from "berlingaccio", as it was called not only on Shrove Thursday ("a berlingacccio who does not have fat kills the cat" says, with all due respect to animal rights activists, a popular saying!) But a fifteenth-century mask from ruddy face.
But the chain of etymologies in turn refers to "berlingare", that is "chattering after eating and drinking at will ..." and then to berlengo (from the German bretling which indicates the table, whether it be for dining or play). This is the meaning with which Boccaccio uses it when in Corbaccio he literally says: “let's leave aside the tall and large and long boastfulness she does when she is drinking with other females”. How many complications for a sweet that is pleasant to the taste but very simple to make!
Many, however, are the pastry chefs who boast the possession of the original recipe of flattened Florentine style. Tradition attributes its typical rectangular shape to the trays in which the nuns of Santa Verdiana cooked it, that is, those they used for the meals of the prisoners. And therefore its origin is also ancient, as in 1808 the Order was suppressed, along with many others, by the Napoleonic laws.
The real, authentic, "Florentine crushed" is the one to which Artusi attributes the name of "greased stiacciata". And it was really greasy as it involved an abundant use of lard, which among other things reveals its close connection with winter, the killing of the pig, the Carnival.
Even at frictilia Roman, sweets cooked in fat and sprinkled with honey, would be attributable to rags: ribbons of fried dough dusted with icing sugar, widespread throughout Italy where they are called by about fifty different names.
But there is also a sweet "secret", which you cannot enjoy neither the flavor nor the scent: the… confetti! We have to go back through the centuries, that is when from the elegant carriages that joyfully paraded through the streets at the Carnival, corn, oranges, flowers, coins, even egg shells with perfumed essences were thrown onto the crowd and, starting from the 500th century, the " confetti ”, that is the seeds of the homonymous aromatic plant suitably coated with a thick sugar syrup, with which the wealthy classes used to conclude the banquets in order to favor digestion and perfume the breath. It was their weight, but above all the cost, that had them replaced, about three centuries later, with paper disks, white as snow before, brightly colored later. The ingenious creator? The case is still debated today, but that's another story ...
For the photo, thanks to Sandra Panerai for @socialeatinginflorence #ioelpasticceria