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Authentic Southern Italian Cuisine
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Carnival The Italian Mardi Gras

February 4, 2012 Carlino's Restaurant no comments

This year’s Mardi Gras celebrations take place on February 21, but although you probably associate the holiday with New Orleans and its French heritage, the Italian tradition of celebrating Carnevale has deeper roots.

Venice is the capital of Carnevale, but you’ll find celebrations of the day throughout Italy.

Carnival time marks the last festive day before the forty abstemious days of Lent. Its name literally means “time for eating meat,” a contrast to Lent’s seafood dishes, and most Carnevale feasts focus heavily on the foods that were traditionally off the Lenten menu such as pork, beef and veal. It’s also a great time to indulge in sweets and a glass or two of wine.

To add to the fun, Carnevale also includes costumes that make the most of Italy’s history as a fashion capital of the world. Venice’s most magnificent costumes take part in a competition judged by international fashion designers.

Some of these glorious costumes are so elaborate that they take a year to make. Planning for next year’s costumes begins before this year’s suit is even worn. For Venetians who don’t intend to wear a full costume worth tens of thousands, a simple gilded mask makes them part of the festivities.

You don’t have to be in Venice or observe Lent to enjoy an Italian Carnevale. No matter what your background, taking a day to remind yourself of the pleasures of good food and drink does much more than just fuel you; it recharges you.

Borrow a little of the Italian love of a great party and create your own miniature Carnevale. You don’t have to wait until a certain Tuesday in February to do it, either, but if you do, raise a glass to toast the celebrations going on in Venice and throughout the world on Carnevale. Happy Martedi Grasso to you and yours!

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