No I haven’t become a vegan. I’m following the ancient Italian custom of Carnevale, the traditional Lenten fast that begins on Ash Wednesday when all feasting is over and fasting begins for 40 days until the celebration of Easter. The word “carne vale” in Latin means “meat farewell” and so abstinence from things of the flesh is de rigeur during this time. But before abandoning meat there is much feasting and merriment with festivals, parties and celebrations with fun, family and food. And since Martedi Grasso is just around the corner, I haven’t got much time before I say farewell to meat. Here’s what I’m planning to do before Fat Tuesday ends.
Party Like a Venetian. Although Carnevale is celebrated all over the world it is at its best when celebrated in Venice. Viareggio, New Orleans and Rio di Janiero may disagree but the Venetian Carnevale has the history, romance and atmospheric feeling that make it an over the top experience. Carnevale in Venice transports you to another time and place where masks and twisted identities blur the lines between fantasy and reality and the excesses of the flesh are excused for the moment.
I unfortunately will be participating in none of the above but will indulge in the exquisite pastries and traditional foods of Carnevale in Venice such as fritelle, tiny doughnut like fritters often made with raisins, pine nuts or grappa and cenci, a bow-tie shaped confection also known as chiacchere, frappe or lattughe (lettuce leaves) because of their ragged appearance.