In this period Venice celebrates Carnival, until 5 March. For days the city has already been smelling of the frìtole, the frittelle, a must during Carnival time.
In ancient times the frìtole were a street food: they were prepared exclusively by the fritolèri, who sold them on the street. The fritolèri, a profession that has been passed down from father to son ever since the 17th century, have definitely disappeared from the streets of Venice in the late 19th century.
Their secret recipe included flour, eggs, sugar, raisins and pine nuts, which the frìtoleri kneaded on large wooden tables, and then fry the mixture. Once cooked, the frìtole were sprinkled with sugar and placed on large plates, ready to be consumed by passers-by.
Today the frìtole can be tasted with different fillings: cream, eggnog, apple – and in this period they can be found everywhere: in the houses of the Venetians, in the confectioneries, in the cafes and in the bakeries.
The image above represents the Insegna dell’Arte dei Fritolèri, oil on wooden panel, 1784. Among the signs of the Venetian guilds, there is also the sign of the guild of the fritolèri, nowadays held at the Correr Museum. The Government of the Serenissima had imposed a curious rule on the fritolèri: they could turn freely around the city to sell their sweets but without offering them out loud!