….and we never get tired. Here again the time when the zeppole reappear, and take us back to childhood.
Flavors and Knowledge

FOTO {Image Attribution via Chef Pietro Parisi}



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Buongiorno amici:

Two days after we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, Italians and Italian-Americans celebrate the Feast of St. Joseph on March 19th.

San Giuseppe becomes the Patron Saint of Carpenters, house buyers and sellers, fathers, confectioners, wheelwrights, working people, and numerous countries and cities, including Austria, Canada, Mexico, Sicily, the cities of Turin, and Florence in Italy. The man has incredible responsibility and juggles his duties as a husband, laborer, and ambassador. Quite a task!

Let’s go back in history and find out what happened.

The Feast of St. Joseph began in Sicily when the country was hit with drought and famine during some years in the Middle Ages. The people of Sicily asked their Patron Saint, Joseph, to intervene, and if he did and ended the drought, the people of Sicily would have a feast honoring him. A pretty good deal, right?

When the rain came down uninterrupted for an entire week and the crops grew, the people of Italy celebrated that their prayers had been answered. Then, they began to prepare their feast in St. Joseph’s honor and make good on the agreement.

The people of Sicily created an altar with three levels representing the Holy Trinity. The Altar was draped in white and decorated with fresh flowers. The tables were full of food, seafood, and wine harvested from the rain. Once they were done preparing the Altar, the people of Sicily invited the poor to share in the festival’s prayers and food. A noble gesture that has remained unaltered through time.

On March 19th each year, St. Joseph’s Day Altars are erected to continue the homage and devotion to St. Joseph’s intervention during the drought. As in the first feast, the Altar is set up in three tiers honoring the Holy Trinity; a statue of St. Joseph is placed on the top tier, surrounded by flowers and candles.

Below his statue is a blanket of foods from pasta, olive oil, fava beans, and Saint Joseph’s Day baked goods. Symbolic St. Joseph’s dough pastries filled with a fig mixture shaped like a monstrance, hearts, baskets, fish, and St. Joseph’s staff are also placed on the Altar.

Meat of any type is forbidden on the Altar due to St. Joseph’s Day occurring during the Lenten season.

St. Joseph’s day loaves of bread, or Pane di San Giuseppe and Cuccidati, are baked to be placed on the Altar. The bread is made into various shapes, such as wreaths representing the crown of thorns and St. Joseph’s staff representing his walking stick.

Along with Saint Joseph’s day loaves of bread, there are loaves shaped like doves and others wrapped around dead eggs called dough babies. In addition, pastries such as Zeppole di San Giuseppe or Saint Joseph’s Day cream puffs are made, along with small fried dough balls called Struffoli dipped in honey.

Cookies such as biscotti, Italian love knots, sfinge di San Giuseppe, lamb cakes, and bible-shaped cakes appear on the Altar. However, the zeppole style we consume in the USA with pastry cream topped with a cherry is purely a local invention. Below is the original recipe, which does not include cream filling. Have fun!


Zeppole original recipe


7 cups of 00 Italian flour

Three large organic eggs

2 oz. quick yeast

The peel of one large orange

Two teaspoons of salt

3-4 cups of warm water


Grate orange peel. Set aside.

Beat the three eggs.

Add yeast to 1 cup of warm water and mix in the three beaten eggs, orange peel, and two teaspoons of salt.

Add this to the 7 cups of double 00 flour and mix with your hands.

As you are mixing, add the remaining cups of warm water.

The dough should be soft and sticky.

Once you have finished, wrap the dough in a linen towel and place it in a large bowl to rise.

Once the dough has risen, take a fork and let the air out

Cover the dough again, and let it rise once more.

Fill a sizeable high-side pan with oil and heat it to 325 F during this time. The oil’s hot enough when the dough drops to the bottom and returns to the surface.

Take the dough and shape it as you like. You could use a 1-ounce ice cream scoop or two large soup spoons to help you.

Once the dough turns golden brown, you want to take it out and place it in a brown paper bag.

Sprinkle with granulated sugar or confectioner.

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Something on Pietro: A young man who hails from near the Vesuvius, with a spontaneous and wide smile, who learned his trade at the court of the “sacred cows” of international cuisines such as Ducasse and Marchesi. After several prestigious experiences in Italy, France, Switzerland, and in the Burj al-Arab hotel in the United Arab Emirates (one of the most luxurious in the world), in 2005, he found his way back to the Campania region to open his restaurant, “Era Ora” (“It was about time”).
The ace up the sleeve of this young “farmer cook” is the excellent technique applied to the produce of his land.


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