As you have surely guessed, food monopolizes Italian feast days and Father’s Day is no exception.
In Italy, March 19 is Father’s Day (Festa del papà), an opportunity to honor fathers and celebrate their affection.
As is tradition in the Catholic world, this celebration is held on Saint Joseph’s Day. This occasion is considered so important in the Italian folklore that remained public holiday until 1977.
Especially in the small towns, the Saint is celebrated with different fairs and events. For example, in Sicily, Apulia and Molise, families set up the so-called ‘Tavole di San Giuseppe‘ (Saint Joseph’s tables), on which they put his image and different kinds of food, such as pastries, vegetables, fish, fruit and wine to express their religious devotion. Instead, in Northern Italy, in the Trebbia Valley, a bonfire marks the ritual passage from winter to spring.
Frittelle di San Giuseppe
As you have surely guessed, food monopolizes Italian feast days and Father’s Day is no exception. Indeed, the typical dessert of the recurrence is the Frittelle di San Giuseppe, rice fritters (with vanilla and orange for those who like the flavour) prepared in Central Italy, especially in the regions of Tuscany, Umbria and Lazio. However, each region has its own versions of the dessert as well as different names in Southern Italy, such as zeppole or bignè.
XV Century recipe
In Prato, Tuscany, this culinary tradition is so old and popular that the first recipe dates back to the XV Century, when Martino de’ Rossi wrote the ‘Art of Cooking’.
Following his original recipe, you just need rice, milk and oil to prepare them: ‘cook the rice very well in the boiling milk and, from the obtained dough, make round fritters. Then, fry these in good extra-virgin olive oil or lard’. Modern versions of the Frittelle allow the use of vanilla, sugar, salt, eggs and flour, but also raisin or citrus candies.
What else to say?
Buon appetito and a very happy day of celebration to all fathers!