Carnival sweet in Sardinia

Perfect out of season tourist routee

Since we survived the Festive season, we decided to detox ourselves, keep on short rations and eat just boiled fennel, yogurt, artichoke’s stem soups and lean ham. We replaced any alcoholic drink with sugarless ginger tea and the bravest of us registered to yoga classes, too.

But we didn’t consider one thing: CARNIVAL time. Who remembered it? We happily passed the age to dress up, we never had the urge to squeeze ourselves into a parade float, so it seemed pretty obvious that we were safe.

No way! Who doesn’t have at least one sister in law inviting everyone to her Frittellata, a party to eat Carnival pancakes? Or an 85-year-old-aunt that feels offended if we refuse to eat at least five of her home made sweets? It’s ME. I have no sisters in law neither aunts, but I fall the same for Carnival.

"Carnival pancakes, deep fried and sprinkled with granulated sugar"

Carnival sweets in Sardinia

Carnival sweets in Sardinia


I live in a region, SARDINIA, where Carnival sweets are a real must have. We don’t prepare desserts for Christmas, or better, none of them is typical of Christmas time; but when it’s Carnival time, we get even more doughs and batters, from the risen to the lard ones, always fried and often generously covered with honey.

When I lived in MILAN I could limit myself to buy the classic six ounces of baked CHIACCHIERE, the Mardi Grass fritters with a little bit of powdered sugar; here the minimum purchase in any confectionery, bakery, grocery store, pizzeria and other place slightly linked to food commodity consists of two pounds of FRITTELLE LUNGHE, a longer variant of Carnival pancakes, deep fried and sprinkled with granulated sugar. Every year we debate on the right place to buy them. And every year there’s an extensive exchange of trays in search of the best ones in town: it’s a real social duty.

Of course, you can find the classic chiacchiere (or frappe) in Sardinia, too but for once it’s more interesting to dive into our regional carnival tradition, which could be also a solution to attract more tourists in winter time.

Of course, you can find the classic chiacchiere (or frappe) in Sardinia, too but for once it’s more interesting to dive into our regional carnival tradition, which could be also a solution to attract more tourists in winter time.

In GALLURA, apart from rural housings, wind and beautiful prehistoric sites, you can taste tricciulini or acciuleddi, made with flour and lard, fried and covered with honey; if you want to follow this line you can move down to the east, in Oliena, and bump into rugliettas, or, towards the middle of the island, in Orgosolo, where you can surely find orilettas.

If you stop in a home, restaurant or farm throughout the central belt of the island, from the land of Barbagie to the sea near Oristano, you’ll be asked to express your opinion on the local recipe of some sweet, soft but pretty heavy little balls of cottage cheese, eggs, sugar, saffron and yeast called arriubiolus, arruviolos, rujolos, rubieddos, etc. Whatever they call them, remember they’re fried.

"A perfect out of season tourist route"

Carnival sweets in Sardinia

Pink paste, instead, is a peculiar tradition of Paulilatino (Oristano). Its dough is different, since it’s made with milk and remains so fluid that you need some specific tools to fry it. Origliettas, arulettas, uriglietti, but also montogadas or ritzas are pretty cross-cutting, although they are more common in the area between Sassari and NUORO. In this case the paste, enriched with lard, is stretched to obtain very thin strips that are shaped as a lace. After that, it gets fried and sprinkled with honey.

Heading South, in CAMPIDANO, the irresistible local attraction consists of sweet ravioli with almonds. You can find as many recipes for culixonis de mindula as kitchens to fry them. The outer dough is made with lard, which means that vegetarian tourists could have a hard time, but everyone else will like it a lot. Speaking of ravioli and vegetarians: they should stay away from the barbarian culurgiones de sambene: they are sweet and fried as usual, but also stuffed with pig or sheep’s blood, orange, raisins and spices. In other words, not for everyone. Near CAGLIARI you can find a beautiful rose-shaped dessert: sa arrosa ‘e mìndula, a pastry shell made with lard and stuffed with almond paste. Fried, of course.

Finally, let’s talk about the most cross-cutting Carnival dessert of all: zeppole, zippole, tzipulas, catzas, uvusones, gatzas or, as they call them in Sassari (where your purchase can be measured in pounds only), frisgioli or frisjori. A fluid, leavened mixture, eventually enriched with potatoes, saffron, various liquors and orange or lemon peel. It may be dropped into boiling oil – for frying, that’s obvious – in two characteristic ways: hand-shaping a little snake of rolled up dough with extreme virtuosity or pouring the mixture through a large mouth funnel, with harmonic movements and a very firm hand. If you wish, you can try it at home purchasing the funnel at a couple of shops in the ancient city.

That’s all you need to know for a perfect out of season tourist route. Luckily for those of us who live here and are part of the social fabric obliged to taste everything, Carnival doesn’t last long. And while we wait for Ester, boiled fennel and ginger teas can make a comeback.

Cristiana Grassi aka Orata Spensierata