For a variety of recipes see "Italy Revisited/" Fritters."
According to my mother, prior to World War II, caragnoli were mostly made for the Christmas holidays in Casacalenda, Molise (though some well-to-do people also made them for New Year's, Epiphany and Carnival). Growing up, her own mother didn't make caragnoli for the Christmas holidays as the fritters cost too much (The honey, which the fritters were dipped in, was very expensive at the time). Her mother, my maternal grandmother, Nonna Seppe, made "scrappelli" for the Christmas holidays -- they were cheaper to make as they were made with the exact same dough the household used to make bread, except, of course, "scrappelli" were fried, while bread was baked. However, after my mother got married, her mother-in-law, did make caragnoli and her caragnoli were shaped as rose-wheels. My aunt, Zia Rosina, however, notes that growing up, her own mother made the caragnoli in a spiral-shaped form. So it appears that "caragnoli" were made in a variety of shapes, sometimes the different shapes went by the same name (caragnoli) and sometimes they didn't (depending on the town in question). In any case when my mother immigrated to Canada she (along with my aunts Zia Teresa and Zia Nunziatina who had also moved to Montreal) noticed that Italians from other regions made their fritters in the shape of bow ties, and these fritters were much easier to do. So, my mother (as well as many of my relatives) started to do their caragnoli in the shape of bow ties or half ties (anything but rose wheels).... Growing up, I didn't like fried pastries of any kind. My late aunts offered them to me and I would say, "No, thank you." I would often rush out of the room rather than take a bite of a sweet fritter. I had no idea back then that one day I would long for my late aunts' sweet fritters. Actually, it's not the sweet fritters I long for, but for my late aunts' presence. So now whatever caragnoli I eat are flavored with nostalgia. And because of it they have a unique and strangely wonderful taste. Tenderness personified. P.S.In some parts of Molise bow-shaped fritters are called "caragnoli" and rose-shaped fritters are called "rosacatarre" or rosachitarre" but in other parts of the region, such as in the town of Casacalenda, both bow-shaped and rose-shaped fritters are referred to as, "caragnoli." Personal comments and photo: Mary Melfi.