To make my Irish fiance happy and to prevent the never ending argument of which holiday is better, St Patrick's Day or St. Joseph's Day, I made corned beef and cabbage for dinner and woofed down a dozen freshly made zeppole for dessert.
Rhode Island is chuck full with Italian's so the traditional fried pastry pops up in every bakery along Federal Hill, aka Rhody's Little Italy. I grew up with zeppole and look forward to them each year, but not the cream filled, cherry-topped one, I'm talking about the light, fried goodness of a pastry drenched in honey. THAT is a real zeppole to me. I've done some research to set the story straight because I don't see enough of zeppole around town, the way that I've always ate it.
Food for thought: if you google zeppole, the kind I'm bragging about is one of the first pictures to pop up. #truth
Zeppole, according to my research, came about in southern Italy and there are variations from region to region. In Itri where my family is from, it was a peasant-filled town so dairy and sugar were not common and considered a luxury. The beauty of this kind of zeppole is its simplicity. With just flour, yeast, water and honey, my ancestors were able to come up with a delicious treat in honor of St. Joseph's Day.
The labor-intensive treat takes hours to make because you can't just make a dozen that's nonsense. To this day, my 94-year-old grandmother makes sure we make zeppole and use specific ingredients because according to her, it isn't the same without King Arthur's flour and Mazola corn oil. She's like the conductor of the operation now-a-days.
I'm not fond of the custard/cream filled zeppole, it's not really my thing. I'm very particular about sticking true to the Italian traditions of my family and yes, it may be snobby of me but I'm just a girl who knows what kind of dessert she likes. I know, I'm terrible.
^^^I don't think they are as good as they look
Us Italians take our traditions very seriously and whatever my Grandma Soprano tells me, I do without question. So much so, I wanted to share her recipe with all of Rhode Island and anyone tuning in by going on a talk radio show to discuss all things zeppole and St. Joseph's Day. The morning radio host at the station I work at wanted me as a co-anchor (more like commentator) and started calling me on air, Anita Baffoni the Zeppole Queen. Well if the crown fits.
I'm going to stop writing this post now because I can't stop eating these damn zeppole and there is too much honey all over my laptop for me to continue. That's what I call a good Friday night. The quicker I eat them, the sooner they won't be in my damn apartment anymore because I'm supposed to be getting fit for my wedding...
So much for that.