Sometimes, traditional cuisine crosses borders and creates its own geographical area.
The chiacchiere, in Italy, merveilles in France, faworki in Poland, or δίπλες in Greece are traditional crunchy, sweet strips which are deep fried until golden and dusted in icing sugar. They are made in different European countries using similar ingredients and recipes and are served as part of traditional celebrations, especially for Mardi Gras during the Carnival.
What’s more, the chiacchiere is a case of geosynonymy, meaning that there exist several different words used in the same country to express the same notion.
For instance, in Italy, many terms can be found depending on the region, such as chiacchiere (literary, small talks or gossips) bugie (lies), cenci o frappe (rags) meraviglie (astonishments). In France there exist both merveilles in the South West, and bugnes (from the French word beignet).
This particular geosynonymy can even be found in the United States, where the pastry is known as “angel wings” or “bow tie cookies” among many other names, probably incorporated into other regional cuisines by immigrant populations.
The etymology of the words is different but we can find a common origin linked to the shape of the pastry as well as to the religious observance of the liturgical calendar. For some people this pastry seems like a piece of cloth, a bow tie or a cencio. At the same time, they are “marvelous” candies of the Fat Tuesday, the last night of indulging in richer, fatty foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season. And what about the origin of bugie? An Italian proverb says A Carnevale ogni scherzo vale: during the Carnival anything goes, even tricks and lies!
Written by Francesca Bisiani
Terminology trainee at TermCoord