When it comes to holidays and festivities, in my family everything revolves around tradition.
We have been celebrating Christmas in the same way and with more or less the same food for years. Every year we gather around the same table, with the same people, and we eat more or less the same dishes.
Things do not change at Easter: we eat at the same restaurant, which offers more or less the same menu year after year. Some might find it really boring, we find it comforting. My parents and my father-in-law would never change this tradition, probably it is a way for them to be sure that things are always the same, that time isn’t passing so quickly.
No matter the reason, big holidays need to abide by the tradition. This is a rule for Christmas and Easter, of course, but Ferragosto makes no exception too. In my family, Ferragosto is almost as important as Christmas. Ferragosto is a very popular holiday all over Italy but it has a very special meaning for my mom and dad in particular.
Ferragosto falls on August 15th and, even if people mainly use this day to celebrate the peak of summer, it is a religious holiday. On August 15th, Christians celebrate the Assumption of Mary, and Mary is the patron saint of Sale Langhe, the place where my mother is from. In the past, it was a really big holiday, with a street fair, dances and celebrations all over the village.
Ever since I can remember, we used to spend that day at my grandmother’s, eating outside under the pergola in her garden. She would prepare homemade pasta and cook all sorts of delicious dishes for all her family. It was a very nice day and, even if I was very little, I still remember how special it felt.
My grandmother passed away suddenly many years ago, leaving us all shocked and lonely. This is probably why celebrating Ferragosto at my grandmother’s place, under the same pergola, has always been so important for my family, and for my mother in particular.
At the time, my grandmother would cook a huge meal for more than 20 people without blinking. Things have changed over the years, my mother is getting old and doesn’t have the energy to prepare food for a lot of people anymore – and I don’t like cooking that much – so lunch is way more relaxed. However, there is something that must always be there: my grandmother’s zucchini and pumpkin flower fritters.
As I said above, my grandmother’s passed away very suddenly and most of her recipes got lost because she didn’t have a recipe book. Thank God, my mom and her sisters had written down the recipe for some of her signature dishes before her passing, so we are still able to enjoy them today.
One of those dishes, which is a staple at Ferragosto, is zucchini and pumpkin flower fritters. Usually served as a starter or for the aperitivo, with a glass of white wine, they are a perfect way to start the endless list of summer dishes that are part of our Ferragosto menu.
I have asked my mother for the recipe and, even if she makes changes to it every time according to her mood, she assured me that this one is really accurate. And let me just add that this recipe will give you some of the best fritters you have ever tried in your life.
Zucchini and pumpkin flower fritters
2 hectograms of flour
1 glass of sparkling water
a pinch of salt
1 medium-sized zucchini
40 pumpkin flowers
Wash the zucchini and the flowers, mince them carefully together and let them rest in a colander (they need to give water away). Meanwhile, prepare the batter: mix the flour and the water carefully and then add the egg and a pinch of salt. Mix carefully until smooth (make sure that the batter is not too thick, if it is just add a bit more water). Let the batter rest for 30/45 minutes, then add the zucchini and flowers. Mix carefully and then start frying.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Scoop a tablespoon of batter for each fritter, flattening them a little bit, and cook until the underside is golden brown. Flip and cook on the other side. You can eat them immediately or prepare them in advance and eat them later on: they are delicious both ways.