Catholics ready themselves for a period of abstinence and fasting, known as Lent, by first reveling in earthly pleasures. Celebrants observe this stretch of partying, gorging, and merrymaking—a period known as Carnival—across the globe. Despite varying cultural rituals, participants seem to agree that eating decadent forms of dough is essential to doing the act of indulgence proper justice. In Hawaii, that means hole-less Portuguese doughnuts. In Russia, it’s butter-topped blinis galore. And in Naples, indulgence comes in the form of a sugar-coated, deep-fried ring. Locals prepare their city’s signature fluffy doughnuts, known as graffe, using dough made from potatoes.
Neapolitans typically fry graffe at home for Carnival, and families take pride in their secret recipes and techniques meant to perfect the light airiness that characterizes these doughnuts. However, despite their association with hedonism, these irresistible sweets managed to charm their way into daily consumption patterns. Bakery shops around the region began offering graffe as a year-round option, and today, locals also eat it for breakfast. Really, who’s to say that foods created for Carnival aren’t the best way to kick-start the day?