Italian Carnival recipes: specialities of Verona
What to eat in Verona during the Carnival season! Discover typical dishes and traditions and learn everything about gnocchi, frittelle and galani!
The Verona Carnival is one of the oldest in Italy. It takes place on the last Friday before Lent and is one of the most popular events in the city. Its highlight is the great parade, where floats and dancers from all over the world wind their way through the city centre.
In 2023, the Carnival of Verona, traditionally called "Bacanal del Gnoco", will be held for the 493rd time and the parade will be on Friday, the 17th February.
The traditional Carnival of Verona is also celebrated in the kitchen. But how much do you know about the typical specialities?
Their origins date back to the Middle Ages, when gnocchi were a popular dish among the poor, made of flour and water only. Over the years, thanks to growing prosperity, the original recipe was refined with eggs and, after the discovery of America, also with potatoes.
Nowadays, gnocchi are best served with tomato sauce, melted butter and sage, gorgonzola or pastissada (horse stew).
Potato gnocchi are eaten all year round, but in Verona they are closely tied to Carnival.
Here is why! In 1531, due to a terrible famine in the city, there were riots among the population. Some wealthy citizens were able to stop these riots by deciding to provide the poorest with basic food, including gnocchi. This event took place on the last Friday of Carnival, and this is how the "Venerdì Gnocolar" (Gnocchi Friday) was born.
One of these generous gentlemen was Tommaso Da Vico, the founder of the Verona carnival, who is recalled and honoured with the famous figure of the Papà del Gnoco, the main mask of the Verona carnival. He is represented by an elderly man with a long white beard, dressed in a red cloak, red hat and white gloves, holding a huge golden fork with a giant potato dumpling (gnocco).
Each year, a new Papà del Gnoco is elected by the citizens. And in case you're wondering what he gets in return: a large portion of gnocchi with tomato sauce. What else?!
Since then, gnocchi have been a traditional Carnival dish in Verona and a symbol of abundance, prosperity and sharing with others.
Do you want to learn how to make authentic gnocchi and other pasta dishes? Have a look at this cooking class!
Frittelle were born in the Republic of Venice around 1300. They are the culinary symbol of the carnival of the entire Veneto region.
The traditional sweet is prepared with eggs, flour, milk, raisins, pine nuts and sugar. After a resting period, balls are formed from the dough, deep-fried in oil and finally sprinkled with icing sugar.
They are crispy and soft at the same time, and can even be filled with pastry cream or chocolate cream, a real treat for all foodies!
Beware not to confuse Venetian frittelle with castagnole, which is a typical dessert from Emilia Romagna that has the same shape but is made of different ingredients.
Another typical carnival sweet is the galani, also known as chiacchiere.
Galani are strips created from a dough of flour, eggs, sugar, butter and a bit of liqueur.
After a short resting period, it is rolled out and cut into strips of about 3 millimetres and then fried in oil. Once drained, they are sprinkled with icing sugar.
The result is a crunchy and crumbly treat, tempting and impossible to resist.
If you are looking for a light, low-calorie dessert, you can make them in the air fryer or oven instead.
All these typical dishes of the Verona Carnival can be accompanied by another regional speciality, namely wine!
If you are a wine lover, read here about the wine routes of Lake Garda.
And if you would like to join a memorable wine and food experience in Verona, have a look at our offers here.