How do you call that mixture of flour, sugar, eggs, which is rolled out as thin as possible and shaped into stripes, deep fried in oil, butter or lard and sprinkled with plenty of icing sugar?
Here in Bologna we called them sfrappole: a typical dessert of the Carnival period, with ancient origins, that we find in many regions with different names: in Tuscany thay call them cenci (rags), in Piedmont and Liguria bugie (lies), while in Veneto galani (galants)...
The shape and the recipe of sfrappole vary depending on the region: some cover them with honey or alchermes, some shape them into diamonds, some others bake them in the oven. In Bologna, the dough is flavoured with orange juice and two tablespoons of brandy and the very thin pastry is cut into rectangles and fried in lard.
According to the historians sfrappole’s origins date back to Roman period, when they prepared the so-called frictilia, little sweets made of flour and eggs that were fried in pork fat, and cooked by Roman women to celebrate the Saturnalia (holidays that correspond to our Carnival). Since frictilia were so easy to make and the ingredients were very cheap, they used to cook large amounts of them, also because they had to last for the entire period of Lent.
These sweets were served to people who went through the streets celebrating Carnival.
Instead, according to a legend, sfrappole – that are also called chiacchiere (chats) - have Neapolitan origins and their name is due to the Savoy Queen, who, while chatting with her guests, was starving. Therefore, she called the court chef Raffaele Esposito and ordered him to make a dessert that could cheer her and her guests. So, the chef took the cue from that conversation to name the dessert.