« perhaps there will be justice | Main | it's that time again »

come mangiare uno zeppole

Several people have asked, in respose to this post, what a zeppole is. These are zeppoles. Basically, they are clumps of deep fried dough covered with powdered sugar. But there's so much more to them than that.

You know the second you walk into a street fair or carnival if there are zeppoles present. Just wait for the umistakable smell of heavy oil mingled with a teeth-clenching sweetness and follow your nose. Don't be put off by the leaden weight of them or the way they drip with grease. Just eat one. Just one. It will melt in your mouth and you will savor it, delight in it, until it finally hits your stomach in one sodden lump.

If you do come upon these treats at a fair, be sure to go on the rides before you begin eating the zeppoles. Trust me on this one. It's not a pretty site when you witness a grown man, filled to the brim with deep fried dough, walk off of a ride that just spun him around and around and upside down and runs for the nearest garbage pail or curbside and disposes of all those zeppoles right in front of you.

There are many ways to make zeppoles; some people dip them in chocolate or cover them in garlic instead of sugar or fill them with custard. Don't be fooled by these imposters. If that's what you want, just head to the deep-fried Twinkie booth and spend your money there. If you want to taste a true, Italian, tastes-as-if-it-were-made-by-my-gradmother, fried in old, crusty, deep dark brown oil zeppoles, coated with confectioner's sugar that soaks up the fat and grease so that it clings to the roof of your mouth when you take your first bite, then go to an Italian street fair or feast and buy a half dozen or so.

UPDATE: A zeppole is NOT a funnel cake. Zeppoles have been around long before funnel cakes were even a thought. Some anglo-saxon person just decided that they would rip off the Italians and slap a dumb name on their invention and make it into a shape so it looks like a turd. A zeppole is made with the magic of the old world. Every zeppole is officially blessed by the Spirit of Zeppoles, a fairie with long black hair and bushy eyebrows who flits around from fair to pizza parlor to feast, sprinkling her fairie zeppole dust onto every fried piece of dough that bears her name.


If you are daring and want to try your hand at zeppole making, I've included the original recipe below:

Ingredients :
2 c. flour
1 pkg. yeast (dissolved in 1 c. hot water)
3 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt

Preparation :
Mix into a soft batter. Let rise for 2 hours. Fry in deep oil.
Dust with confectioner's sugar. Eat. Complain about a stomach ache. Take some Pepto-Bismol. Eat some more.



Listed below are links to weblogs that reference come mangiare uno zeppole:

» Cooking with Nona from Mama Write
Michele recently wrote about zeppoles, and it reminded me of my grandmother's cooking. I can only recall one time when I was around her Bronx, NY, kitchen when she made them, and it had to have been in the late... [Read More]

» Making Nona's Sauce from Mama Write
Last week, I wrote about my grandmother's recipes. Today, I made pasta sauce. There is no recipe, per se, for this sauce, and I never really got my grandmother to tell me all of the ingredients, so I've had to... [Read More]


Fairs down here have funnel cakes instead. Zeppoles sound really similar.

Is it different than a funnel cake? Because it sounds basically the same, just in a different shape...

I remember one summer working for a guy who made these. They cost him 1 penny to make and he sold them 5 for a dollar. Made a fortune.

And for whatever reason, working at that zeppole stand was like giving out Spanish Fly to the women.

Those damn Anglo-Saxons...

Ripping off pastries! How low can you get?

Sounds pretty similar to a biegnet to me.

Thanks Dave! Now I don't have to spell "biegnet".

Ok, but taste wise - similar to a funnel cake?

Did someone say beignets?

Those zeppoles look soooooo gooood!

They call it fried dough here. Looks a lot like it at least. Mmmm, no I'm hungry :)

Yummy! Zeppoles rock. They are the best things to eat at the Italian festivals. You gotta get them super hot and fresh as they are tossed in a small brown paper bag with powdered sugar. You know they're good when the brown bag gets little grease stains from the oil!

Thanks for the pic, Michele. They look a lot like Portuguese Malasadas, which were brought here by immigrants a long while back. They are often sold for fund-raising events.

Curse Florida for having their fairs in February!

Wow, those look good. I've never seen them in California though. We have churros, a deep-fried Mexican donut. Based on the recipe it's definitely not the same as a zeppole, but still yummy.

Zeppoles are only the start. Add some barbecued meat to the fried dough and you've got the ultimate festival food...


Tia Leondine is the prima Zeppole maker in our familia...makes them to die for...adds a dollop of annisette...not enough to really identify... just a hint as you gobble them down. Yum...now I'm hungry.

Up here we call them (or something that sounds an awful lot like them) elephant ears!

Gee, thanks all of you. Now I can't get my ass into my jeans.

I was at the Calverton Air Show/Carnival this weekend and they had Zeppoles. I was ready to break down and sob cause I spent all my money on the tickets and breakfast beforehand. It's been so long since I had them : (

That the problem with carnivals..the smell of the foods are soooooooooo good. And I'm sooooooooooo poor.

Beat the dough into a flat shape and you would have a Beavertail http://www.beavertailsinc.com/.


I grew up with these things. My Grandma Buba and I used to make them all the time around the holidays and special occasions. I moved from NY to Fl where ya can't even get a decent slice of pizza. Grandma has since moved to Hawaii with my father and I will be making these on my own FOR THE FIRST TIME (i'm over 30 now) and just got the original recipe from her, and confirmed it with your site.. I CAN'T WAIT TO BOIL SOME OIL and make these. I've got my friends at work dying to taste them. Thanks for posting this on your site.

Thanks for sharing this Zeppole recipe, I tried making them and they turned our "deliziosi". What great stories of Italian heritage too, I enjoyed reading your website.