Fried dough. It sounds so plain and mundane, but when you think about it--the possibilities are endless. Countless regions around the world have their own versions of fried dough that are part of their culinary heritage. Beignets in New Orleans. Churros in Mexico. Sufganiya are enjoyed in Israel and around the world in celebration of Hanukkah. Bomboloni in Tuscany. Oliebollen are enjoyed in the Netherlands at Christmas time. Munkki in Finland. The list goes on. Let's not forget the guilty pleasure of Elephant Ears and Funnel Cakes at fairs and festivals in the U.S. (I may have just stumbled upon a great travel itinerary...Travel across the world trying every region's version of a doughnut? I'm sure someone has done it already.)
Zeppole (plural for "zeppola"), are traditionally enjoyed in Rome in celebration of St. Joseph's Day, but are very easy to make and enjoy at home no matter where you live any day of the year. Making zeppole, or any type of doughnuts, does not need to be an overwhelming proposition. The trick is to keep an eye on the temperature of the oil, and adjust is as needed throughout the process to maintain even frying. I really like making doughnuts outside. My favorite way to make them is on crisp Fall mornings outside on our porch or picnic table. An electric frying pan works really well, especially if you want to do your frying outside. You don't need to own a deep-fryer to make zeppole. Just a pan on the stove and a fry/candy thermometer work great too. Just be sure to keep lots of paper towel nearby, and choose an oil that doesn't take on a scorched taste at high temperatures. Peanut oil is great for frying if you don't have an allergy to peanuts. Vegetable oil works well too.