But where do zeppole come from? They date back to Naples, Italy in the 17th century when Neapolitans would celebrate the end of winter, the beginning of spring and thus the beginning of their fertile period for the land known as Campania Felix or "Happy Fertile Land".
The volcanic region of Naples was one of the most fertile in Italy due to the volcanic mix in the soil and thus grew what we all love: grapes for wine, tomatoes, lemons for limoncello and of course pasture for mozzarella producing cows.
|"A taste of Campania: Let yourself crave the food from our lands."|
Neapolitans couldn't wait to start planting their tomatos, eggplant and zucchini and spending lovely days in the sun. So naturally, the beginning of spring was cause for a big celebration! And what better way to celebrate than by eating fried cream-filled doughnuts and making dad happy?
This celebration of spring beginning came alongside of the feast for Father's Day (St. Giuseppe) honoring the men who gave them life like the land would give life with the first harvests.
Most of Italy fasted in various ways during lent but the feast of St. Giuseppe was a welcome break. The people would purify the new era of spring by having big bonfires and frying hundreds of these doughnuts. Traditionally, children would also give their fathers a tool made of wood representing St. Giuseppe who was a carpenter.
The tradition of zeppole quickly became popular in the other regions of Italy. Each region made a variation of the zeppole depending on the local ingredients they had available.
In Fairfield, we are lucky enough to have the traditional Neapolitan zeppole made in our pastry shops: it is fried, filled with custard and sprinkled with powdered sugar.
We librarians hope you enjoy this Italian tradition today and be sure to pick up some Zeppole for the dad or special man in your life! To all Fairfield Fathers, "Auguri a tutti i papa!"