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Tadales/Frito Twists (Easter Madonna figures, either twisted or braided, using olive oil and anise extract)
Originated from: Polisten, Calabria or Monforte San Giorgio, Sicily
Occasion: Easter
Contributed by: Jon Orendorff

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6 to 7 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
12 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups sugar
12 tablespoons olive oil or 3/4 cup of vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 ounce anise extract*
about 1 ounce anise seed*

*One can use vanilla, lemon, orange or any other flavor of one's preference

For frying
half olive oil and half Mazola corn oil, or canola

For decoration
Powdered sugar
Hard-boiled eggs (optional)


Combine eggs, sugar, oil, anise extract and anise seed.

Sift about 6 to 7 1/2 cups of all purpose flour and add until it stays together in a ball.

Shape the dough into twists (Or, alternatively, make taralli-style logs and braid them). To make twists wrap the dough, pulling and rolling the dough between one's hands or the handle of a floured wooden laddle (Other techniques can also work), leaving the "top" with an opening.... Think of an O shape (a lot of flour on hands is essential or chill the dough -- sticky!). Not too much handling to avoid firmness.

Deep fry in 50/50 olive/Mazola corn (or canola etc.) oil.

Take out upon rising and color change.

Set on paper towels and when partly cooled shake in a bag of powdered sugar.

Place the fritters on a decorative platter and place a hard-boiled egg in the O circle. (Optional)


Jon Orendorff whose grandparents were from Calabria - Polistena (Giovianzzo/Giovenazzo) and Sicily - Monforte San Giorgio (Pollicino)is not sure which of the two regions this fritter originates from. In any case his mother called the fritters in this entry as "frito twist" others in his family called them "tadales" which are similar to "scalette" and "braided caragnole." This fritter was made for the Easter holidays. Jon Orendorff believes the purpose of leaving a large hole on one end of the fritter was to put an Easter egg into it so that it would help make the fritter look like a Madonna, though in his family the egg was never added.... Photo: Mary Melfi.

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