This Tuesday is Mardi Gras, the end of Carnival, known as Martedì grasso and Carnevale in Italian. Fried foods are often the most traditional choice for Carnival around the world, stemming from an attempt to use up all the decadent sugar and oil before the austere time of Lent. Fried foods are also popular in Italy, including the omnipresent Chiacchiere, but in Naples they have their own, slightly different culinary tradition. Migliaccio is the typical Carnival cake in Naples, and is a relatively light, crustless cake made with ricotta and semolina, flavored with lemon. If you are in Naples you can sample Migliaccio at many bakeries including the stalwart Gambrinus. If you are not lucky enough to be in Italy, here are recipes from Manu’s Menu (pictured below), Foodellers, and Gourmet Traveller. There are many variations of Migliaccio, and it is popular in communities in Italy and the diaspora. We even found a version from Memorie di Angelina that doesn’t include ricotta.
Mexico Cooks! has an extremely interesting post about special Lenten foods in Mexico. For those observing Lent (La Cuaresma in Spanish), the 40 days leading up to Easter, meat is typically not eaten on Fridays. It is cool to see these more unique veggie and fish-based dishes popular for Lent in Mexico – certainly an alternative to the Friday fish fry. I think we would especially like to try the Capirotada bread pudding – and Mexico Cooks provides a pretty enticing recipe at the link above.
Capirotada from Mexico Cooks
It’s almost Mardi Gras, and we are in NYC, so we decided to indulge in a semla (plural: semlor) from the Swedish coffee shop Fika (41 W. 58th St.), which we had visited on a previous trip. So while many may think of king cake for Mardi Gras, we were in a Scandinavian mood. A semla is traditional Swedish brioche roll flavored with cardamom and filled with whipped cream, usually eaten before Lent. Understated, yet indulgent, this is definitely a Mardi Gras tradition we can get behind. Learn how to make your own semla at Saveur.
Semla (or as it goes by many other names: fastlagsbulle, laskiaispulla, or fastelavnsbolle) is a Scandinavian pastry strongly associated with Lent in Finland, Denmark, Iceland and Sweden. Semlor (plural) used to be eaten on Shrove Tuesday/Mardi Gras, however, it is now eaten throughout Lent, especially on Tuesdays. Semla seems pretty easy to make – and consists of a cardamom flavored sweet roll filled with whipped cream and almond paste. During this time of year, all of the bakeries in Scandinavia stock semla, and it is the perfect snack to enjoy with your afternoon coffee break, or fika. For those outside of Northern Europe, Camilla’s Cravings has a recipe for Semla.
Semla by Erik Boralv
Filed under Coffee, Holidays