Tuesday, 19 February 2013

The carnival is over

I walked back through Campo Sant'Angelo last Tuesday to find a team of workers taking down the Carnevale Altro stage, and removing the ominously large loudspeakers. I felt a strange urge to give them a hug, or at least to give them a hand. Just to be absolutely sure.

The harsh weather has passed now, although it didn't seem to deter the hardier Carnival-goers. Caroline saw another Napoleon on the vaporetto, stoically sitting on his own outside, gazing into the horizontal snow as if contemplating the retreat from Moscow.

It was a brisk day on the altana. The dome of the Salute is almost invisible in the snow.

It's been a strangely unsatisfying few weeks, all told. The schools get time off for Carnevale, and half my students are either off sick on on holiday, so there's not been much work to detain us; but a combination of the weather and the crowds has kept us indoors, sulking and eating fritelle.

Ah yes, fritelle. Or, "what they don't tell you about the Italian diet". I'm aware that I've probably been a bit grumpy about the whole Carnevale experience, but there is at least one good thing that's come out of it, and that's the discovery of these little doughnuts. They come in various forms, from the traditional unfilled Fritelle Veneziane, to varieties filled with pastry cream or zabaglione. When they're good, they're very, very good indeed. And when they're bad, well, they're still pretty good. They're only supposed to be available during Carnevale. Fortunately, perhaps, as, short of giving away free cigarettes, it's harder to think of a greater risk to public health.

We became a bit obsessed with them. No venture outside was complete without a visit to a new shop to work our way through their selection. They were everywhere. One of my students told me my life would not be complete unless I bought them from Rosa Salva in Mestre. Choir practice typically ended with huge trays of them being unwrapped, and the popping of prosecco corks. I was considering creating a league table of them on a dedicated spreadsheet. Well, like I said, it's been a quiet few weeks.

And so, Carnevale has come to an end and, sadly, so has our supply of doughnuts. We felt strangely bereft for the first few days, but that was probably just our bodies adjusting to the sudden lack of sugar. They're clearly from Satan's very own deep-fat fryer but they improved the carnival experience for us no end. Some Venetians leave the city for the whole festive period, but that seems a little excessive: next year we might just stock up on fritelle, soundproof the flat as best we can, and stay indoors for the whole eleven days.


  1. Could you hear me laughing all the way from Castello? I have to tell you that one of my local bars (yes, I know how to get to quite a few in my neighbourhood), is still producing these morsels from Hades. But, luckily, they are not up to our high standard of gluttony, or the results would be dire.

    1. Hm, but maybe we need to *try* them... :-)


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