Carnevale – When Anything Goes
“A Carnevale ogni scherzo vale!”
Have you ever wondered why we wear masks for Mardi Gras / Carnevale? Throughout history, this time of year was known as a time of abandon and excess. Disguised behind masks, one could banish imposed restraints and give in to the human foibles of sexual and gastronomic orgies. Traditionally, at this time, rules and customs went out the window, social divisions were eliminated, and it allowed people to poke fun at the aristocracy.
The word “Carnevale” comes from the Latin, “carrum levare” meaning “take away meat”. Throughout the centuries, it was shortened to “carne vale” / good-bye, meat! For Christians, it represented the last moments of indulgences, the last great party, before the strict restrictions of Lent. There are hundreds of diverse celebrations throughout Italy this week. It seems almost every region and city has its own traditions of merriment.
This is such a rich time of year in Italy with so many different festivals each with its own culinary specialties. This week we highlight just a few.