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Usciun

I cannot find a single mention of these anywhere else online. And I’ve only encountered them once in Italy. Capodanno (New Years), 2012.

We went to dinner with two friends. She’s Neopolitan, he’s from Cassino (yes, the town virtually destroyed during one of the grimmest battles of World War 2). He says these are unique to Cassino. I don’t have any reason to doubt him.

They’re basically deep-fried, filled dough balls. Not unlike castagnole, but savoury. The ones they made for us had uva secca (dried grape, so raisins. Which is a bit of a mystery to me as I have never found raisins for sale in Rome, but do see uva sultanina, sultanas).

They also said larger versions can be filled with baccalà (salt cod), and other savoury fillings.

I believe they’re not unlike certain pizzelle napoletane fritte, which can be small discs, but can also be balls, like here or here.

I’m kicking myself for not taking a photo, but I only had my phone. A bowl of doughballs would be hard to photo at the best of times, let alone with a phone, in the half-light of New Year’s Eve, lit only by candles and the flashes of seasonal explosions going off outside.

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Videogaming meets cake-making

Two of my main hobbies indulgences seem to have a fairly lively culture of convergence out there, as recorded on t’internet.

Dr J Russell sent me this link to a blog entry entitle Console Cakes!, where the blogger has rounded up a load of pictures of cakes shaped and iced – with varying degrees of skill, to varying degrees of success – to look like games consoles, and even a few arcade cabinets. The best one is probably this Nintendo Wii.

Which was bloggged about over here. I do not approve of things like “Use Betty Crocker yellow cake mix” (when you’re this inventive, why not make a cake mixture properly?), but the results are certainly fun.

The first blogger also provides a link to here. A much higher standard of icing-craft here, with some fab Mario-themed cupcakes, and better still an elaborate Katamari cake.

The unique, distinctive Katamari games have inspired all sorts of craftiness – costumes, knitted items, soft toys, and hybrids of the above, but the baking is rather funky – and edible (ish, food colourings are by and large thoroughly nasty things. I found some of them even carryied health warnings about the potential detrimental effects of their E-numbers when I was looking into doing coloured icings for a cake course).

I am slightly disconcerted to find myself linking to blogs on Sanriotown, the Hello Kitty official site, though.

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