Seeing them lying invitingly on their trays it is difficult not to be tempted: they are irregular and sinuous strips shaped into knots. Their presence in the shops tells us that the festa is near and the sweet aroma soon makes your mouth water. The chiacchiere in Milano are immediately associated with the idea of coloured confetti and streamers.
Every region of Italy has its own name to describe them: in Tuscany they are called cenci, in Friuli grosoli, in Emilia sfrappole, then frappe in The Marches and bugie in Piedmont. In Milano the crumbly pastries are called chiacchiere (chitchat) and are the symbol of Carnival.
They are made from flour paste that is fried and then sprinkled with icing sugar. The tradition of chiacchiere probably dates back to that of frictilia, sweet cakes fried in pork fat which, in ancient Rome, were prepared precisely during the period of today's Carnival.
The names are different from region to region but the basic recipe does not change: flour, sugar, butter and eggs. Then, depending on where you are, there are those who add white wine, Marsala, brandy or Sambuca, but these are variations on the traditional recipe. And then, of course, the icing sugar that cannot be forgotten, always an essential part of the decoration!
Chiacchiere can be bought all over Milano, from bakeries, pasticcerie and even from the shelves of the large retail food chains.