19 May 2017

How good the Neapolitan staple!

Nobody can say that they are immune to the taste and fragrance of Neapolitan staples.
Golden, sweet, soft on the palate, thanks to the presence of potatoes in the dough, eaten still warm are a triumph of flavor for the palates of all, Neapolitan and not.

A dessert so typical of Campania and, above all, of Naples, that one would never expect that its origins belong to another place, outside the national borders; exactly, in fact, the staples, as we know them today and we find them in the shops of the whole region, come from another type of cake, very similar, originating in the distant lands of Austria and Germany.

The origins of the staples

The staple is one of those symbols par excellence naples, linked to the Carnival and the Father’s Day, but present on the tables and Neapolitan roads every day of the year.

Its origins, however, are lost in time and come very far.

Starting from the etymology, that is from the origin of the word itself, the term “graffa” derives from the Austrian word “krapfen” which, at the end of the seventeenth century, was used to indicate small fried dough stuffed with jam; this small sin of gluttony came to Italy, and therefore, of course, also in Campania, in the eighteenth century, during the Austrian domination, following the treaty of Utrecht (a series of peace treaties signed between March and April 1713 , which helped end the war of Spanish succession). The word krapfen, in turn, would be derived from the Lombard krapfo (krappa in gothic) which stands for “hook”: the sweet pancake, in fact, initially had just that kind of shape.

But there is much more that is told about the origin of this Neapolitan delicacy.

Among the many legends, there is one that concerns a Viennese pastry chef, a certain Cecilia Krapf, who would give life to this dessert, giving it also its name.

In short, the Austro-German-Neapolitan link appears confirmed in every version, so much so that even the ingredients of the original recipe coincide with historical evidence.

It is the shape that, as has happened for many other sweets, has changed over time, passing from a hooked shape to a rounder one, like the one we are used to finding in the windows of the historic center.

Naples, then, has provided, over the centuries, to create a version of his own.

In about 1830, in fact, the zeppole di San Giuseppe were born, with that unmistakable aroma created also by the presence of potatoes, in the dough, which also made them exceptionally soft.

The variants

But it was not only our city that gave its personalized contribution to these sweet dough fritters.

There are many places in Northern Italy where the Austro-German culture is predominant and tradition has undergone other types of evolution.

In South Tyrol-Alto Adige, for example, the staples are mostly linked to the Carnival, calling themselves “Faschingkrapfen”, that is “Carnival Krapfen”.

A tendency which, initially, was also experienced among the Neapolitans who, however, subsequently elected this sweet as a symbol of the city, leaving it available every day of the year, for all occasions.