You are probably familiar with Carnival celebration in New Orleans (called Mardi Gras) and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, but Carnevale is also one of the most famous festivals all around Italy.
Celebrations usually are held from the second weekend of February until mid-March, depending on the region.
Carnevale was originally a Catholic holiday that takes place 40 days before Easter, just before the start of Lent, where people traditionally gave up all sorts of things, starting with meat. The world Carnevale, in fact, has its roots in the Latin word “carnem-levamen”, which means “giving up meat”.
The oldest records of celebrations for this festival are tracing back to the medieval era, but similar ceremonies were likely taking place in pre-Christian times, and then got adapted to fit into the Catholic rituals.
In every town of Italy people celebrate Carnevale, so no matter where you are, you are likely to see masks, Carnival floats, confetti and streamers, and eat some special food.
Italian food for Carnevale
Carnevale period is a feast of delicious food that will terminate on Martedì Grasso, the very last day that you would be allowed to spend binging on rich fatty dishes and mainly fried sweets.
Each region has its own version, but you will find deep-fried pastries called frappe, chiacchere, bugie, cenci, guanti, galani, crostole and more, all over the Italian territory. They are made from a thin sheet of dough, with flour, sugar, butter, and eggs finely stretched and then fried in hot oil, and finally covered with a generous layer of icing sugar or a drizzle of chocolate.
Another typical sweet is Castagnole, made pretty much with the same ingredients but shaped in little balls, deep-fried, covered in casting sugar, and sometimes filled up with jam or custard.
In Naples, you will find a semolina cake called Migliaccio. Originally made with millet, now it is made with wheat middling, ricotta cheese, milk, vanilla, butter, cream, oranges, and lemon. This delicious cake is probably one of the few desserts of Carnevale that is not deep-fried!
But Italian food is not only about desserts! As we all know, Lasagna is the most commonly known pasta dish around the world – though, in Naples there is a particular version of it served during Carnevale. It’s made with pasta, meat sauce, ricotta cheese, boiled eggs, meatballs, sausages, mozzarella, and provolone. We bet you’ll be the first one to want to start Lent after eating this.
Famous Carnivals in Italy
As we mentioned before, you can find Carnevale celebration all over Italy; however, there are some very particular ones you do not want to miss out on.
CARNEVALE DI VENEZIA is one of the most famous Carnival in the world, dating back as early as 1094 a.C.
Even if you do not attend any of the fancy masquerade balls or private party, walking around will be still a one in a lifetime experience. And if you want to live a full Carnival experience, you can check all the activities on their official website. (https://www.carnevale.venezia.it/en/)
CARNEVALE DI IVREA and its Battaglia delle Arance is the re-enactment of a historical event that took place in the Middle Age. Violetta (the young daughter of the miller) refused to follow the Medieval law stating that, after the marriage of any couple living on his lands, the lord had the right to spend the first night with the bride. She got into the castle, and she killed her abuser with a knife she had hidden in her hair. The killing of the tyrant started a rebellion between the lord’s army and the people of Ivrea, where oranges are replacing original weapons.
CARNEVALE DI CENTO, in the Emilia-Romagna region, is linked to the Carnival of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Their floats are inspired by traditional fables, public figures, and famous personalities such as politicians. During the parade, they will throw gadgets and candies to the crowd. The winning float in the Cento parade is then taken to Brazil for their Carnival festivities. https://www.carnevalecento.com/
CARNEVALE DI VIAREGGIO dates back to 1873, and it lasts for about a month. The charming seaside town is transformed by parades of giant paper-maichè floats (mainly satirical, reflecting current events and politics), night parties, fireworks, and food events. However, if you want to see the fantastic parade, you have to buy a ticket in advance. http://viareggio.ilcarnevale.com/biglietteria-contatti
Therefore, if you love fancy dressing and you are in a party mood, this is probably one of the best months to visit Italy for a once in a lifetime experience!
If you have been to Italy during the Christmas holidays, good chances are that just past the New Year Celebration, you might have seen in shops colorful stocking full of sweets, or dolls of an old lady with a broomstick. Both the socks and the “old lady” are related to the Epiphany day, celebrated almost worldwide on the 6th of January, and called “La Befana ” in Italy.
La Befana vien di notte con le scarpe tutte rotte col cappello alla romana: Viva viva la Befana!
(The Befana comes by night, with her shoes all tattered and torn, she comes dressed in the Roman way, long live the Befana!)
There are many versions of the story about how the Befana became a folkloristic tradition in Italy. However, these are most likely the most popular legends.
The oldest one goes back to Pagan times when the population followed the rhythms of nature. Legend says some women would fly over and bless the fields for the following 12 nights after the winter solstice, hoping for a generous crop to grow during the upcoming year.
Another legend, this time with a Christian twist, tells that the Befana was approached by the Three Kings (or so-called “Re Magi” in Italian) who were asking for directions to find the Son of God. The old lady offered them shelter for the night, but she could not help them find the way. On the following morning, she was asked if she wanted to join them on the journey, but she turned them down, being too busy with her housework. She then changed her mind, and she started looking for the same way the Three Kings went, but she could not find either them or baby Jesus. However, on the way, every time she founded a child in the house, she would leave candies or fruits to the kids who had behaved well, and a piece of coal to the naughty ones.
Today the tradition continues, so on the night of the 5th of January children leave out a sock, which will get filled in the morning with candies or coal (then replaced by sugar coal).
Have you been good this year?
So why don’t you keep out your Christmas stocking a little longer next Christmas, and leave a glass of wine and some cookies for the Befana?
Look out from your window and see if you can spot her flying on her broom while she is leaving gifts to the children.
In case the Befana did not pay you a visit leaving some candies, you can always pay us a visit and have a dessert from our menu. It’s guaranteed to satisfy your sweet tooth!
What do you know about our Good Ole’ Tomato? That we love it, we know for sure!
Tomatoes originated in Central and South America, where the Aztecs were growing and eating them as early as 700 AD. It was only in 1493 that the Spanish conquistador Hernàn Cortès took the seeds back to Europe, understanding all the potential of this plant. It started growing in the warm Mediterranean climate without any problem, and it soon became available on pretty much all tables.
Raw or Cooked?
Tomatoes come in many different shapes, colors, and sizes reaching an incredible number of varieties that are close to 7000! You can eat tomatoes both raw and cooked. Let’s see how!
The queen of all summer salads! Refreshing and super tasty, it can be seasoned with just a sprinkle of fresh herbs like basil and chives, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, or with other vegetables, such as onions and cucumbers, and maybe some olives and mozzarella cheese! For an excellent experience, try our Caprese Salad: Roma tomatoes, Fior di Latte mozzarella, basil, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and sea salt. Perfect simplicity for your taste buds!
Each variety of tomatoes will give the soup its unique flavors. You can do it with either fresh or oven-baked ones, for a distinctive taste. Basil, onions, and oregano are always a must. It is perfect for cloudy and rainy days.
Tomato sauce is an essential ingredient in every kitchen around the world, but it obviously is a must in the Italian ones. Pizza, pasta, parmigiana, and hundreds of other typical dishes would not be the same without a tasty tomato sauce. The real tomato sauce has only a few simple ingredients: garlic, onions, ripe tomatoes, and basil: slowly cooked, and then stored in glass jars until next summer!
As the word suggests, sun-dried tomatoes are tomatoes that have been dried in the sun so they can be stocked during wintertime, or until next summer. They are a fantastic addition to any recipe that needs a bit of spicing up, whether soups or salads. If they are stored in olive oil, they can also be an excellent appetizer on their own, with some cheese, or with some fresh bread. As an alternative to the warm rays of sunshine, this tasty topping can be prepared baked in the oven. Find all your favorite combinations!
Stuffed tomatoes are another must during summertime. They are usually filled with rice and maybe other small veggies, like chopped carrots and peas. You can eat them either right out of the oven, or you can enjoy them cold on the following day when the rice has soaked up the bursting flavor of the tomatoes even more
Bruschetta is simply a slice of crusty bread that’s toasted, rubbed with garlic cloves, drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with salt and pepper, and then finally topped with fresh chopped tomatoes and basil.
Tomatoes are delicious and nutritious! They are packed with antioxidants (lycopene and beta-carotene), and vitamins (Vitamin C, Vitamin K, folate and potassium) and as we have just seen, they are also very versatile in the kitchen.
Your imagination is the only limit! So why don’t you start preparing your next dish using this delicious vegetable? You can try some of the above recipes at home or stop by one of our Restaurant locations and get spoiled with some of our tomato-based dishes!
The olive oil is unique, as it is the olive tree. It is an evergreen and it grows in subtropical climates all over the world, growing between 10 and 40 feet tall in size, and living up to hundreds of years!! During spring, it is covered in white flowers that will then turn into olives. Olives will be harvested between late September up to December, depending on the area they are located. Then, they will go to the pressing almost immediately to preserve their quality. Let’s have a look at where and when it all began!
6000 Years of Flavor!
The olive tree has been part of the Mediterranean culture for about 6000 years. It played a vital role in both the economy and the everyday life of the Greeks, but it was only thanks to the Romans that the Olive tree became a real success. As their empire grew, the Romans began to plant olive trees in the newly conquered regions, using part of the harvest in return as taxes instead of gold and expanding the cultivations thorough the continent. Besides cooking and seasoning, olive oil had many other uses. In fact, it was used as the base for the preparation of ointments and creams due to its emollient and soothing properties. Furthermore, it was utilized as fuel for lamps and lanterns.
With the fall of the Roman Empire, the industry around olive oil was nearly destroyed. Therefore, olive cultivation suffered massive declines, except for a few areas where the religious services kept on growing them to use the produce for liturgical services. Olive oil was then introduced in America in 1700 by the missionaries, and it became more popular thanks to Italian and Greek immigrants. Today Italy, then Greece and Spain, are the leading producers of olive oil in the world.
Olive oil is good for your health!
Olive oil returned to international prominence thanks to the latest scientific and medical discoveries, and because of the increasingly frequent use by famous international chefs. Nutritional studies have shown that it has excellent healthful qualities. Medical studies have demonstrated that it is very useful in preventing various diseases such as diabetes, obesity, cancer, and aging. However, you have to make sure your olive oil is of the purest grade, and cold-pressed, meaning reading “EXTRA VIRGIN” on the label.
“Extra Virgin” means that the oil is extracted by cold press method (at a temperature lower than 80,6° F) and without the addition of any chemicals.
If you want to purchase good quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil, we recommend you always check the label carefully and follow these basic principles:
Sold in a dark glass bottle, as the oil is sensitive to light
Has a level of free acidity of less than 0.8%
Contains a high percentage of monounsaturated fatty acids (e.g., oleic acid between 55% and 83% of total fatty acids)
Comes from a reliable origin, or even better if marked as D.O.P. (Denominazione di Origine Protetta)
Harvested, pressed, and bottled in the same place: in fact, the waiting time from one step to the next will decrease the quality and the flavor of the finished product
If you want to have a taste of the authentic Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil, came to Campania. From salad to Pizza, we do use only the best quality product to offer you the best Italian experience.
One of the most loved food in the world is Italian gelato, with a history dating back right to the Egyptians, where Pharaohs used to offer their guests a chalice divided into two parts: one with snow and the other with fruit juices.
However, to see a version of Gelato which is more similar to the one we know, we have to fast forward until 1565 where Bernardo Buontalenti, a native of Florence, Italy, delighted the court of Caterina Dei Medici with his creation: a delicate mixture of snow, salt, lemon, sugar, milk, and egg white.
Around the world
It was 1686 when a Sicilian, Francesco Procopio Dei Coltelli, opened a café named “Cafè Procope” in Paris introducing Gelato (made with fruits, honey, and ice) to Europe and, of course, it quickly became one of the most celebrated haunts of the literary establishment in France.
Gelato was brought to the USA in 1770 by the Italian Giovanni Biasolo, but in 1846 Nancy Johnson brought ice cream to the masses with her hand-cranked ice cream churn, which consisted of concentric cylinders, a lid, a paddle, and a crank. An inner can was placed inside the main bucket. Then ice and rock salt were placed between the two vessels. Because salt lowers the temperature of ice, a thin layer of milk froze in the inner can. The crank on the outside was connected by meshed gears to a paddle inside. The hand crank moved the paddle that scraped the frozen milk from the walls to expose a layer of milk not yet frozen. The consistent stirring and temperature resulted in smoother ice cream with a uniform texture.
Gelato or Ice Cream?
Although we are commonly mistaken, we should not confuse Gelato with Ice cream. Gelato is a healthier product, made with fresh ingredients, and above all, it has less air than ice cream, making the flavor much more intense.
If you are still unsure, why don’t you pay us a visit and try one of our delicious flavors of Gelato from our Menu? You will be blown away!