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Exploring the Delights of Zeppole Di San Giuseppe: A Guide to Tradition and Flavor

What are Zeppole Di San Giuseppe and when do you eat them?

Sure, everyone knows all about St. Patrick: he drove the snakes out of Ireland, patron saint of the now snake-free country, his name day is celebrated by pinching leprechauns and eating green eggs and ham – or something like that. But did you know that there’s another saint’s day in March, a saint who should be an even bigger deal? St. Joseph, whose feast day is March 19, is not only the patron saint of a much bigger country (according to NationMaster, Italy has 61.48 million people to Ireland’s 4.78 million), but was, hello, Jesus’ stepfather, not some kind of medieval Orkin man.
Oh, and there’s another reason why St. Joseph’s Day is a much better holiday than its Irish counterpart – the food! If there’s one dish that’s universally associated with St. Patrick’s Day, at least here in the U.S., it’s corned beef and cabbage. This is boiled cabbage, something that requires copious amounts of green beer to wash down (and also has some rather unpleasant olfactory aftereffects). St. Joseph, on the other hand, is properly celebrated with delicious Italian pastries called zeppole di San Giuseppe.

Why zeppole are associated with Saint Joseph

St. Joseph, or San Giuseppe in Italian, was – fun fact (or legend, anyway) – the original Fred the Baker! No, seriously, one story about St. Joe is that after the flight to Egypt, it was “time to make the donuts” to support his family. According to NonnaBox, this carpenter-turned-confectioner’s doughnuts were a big hit even with the hard-to-please Romans, so today he is remembered with a doughnut-like pastry that bears his name.
The zeppole made in honor of St. Joseph, however, are more like cream puffs than any doughnut sold by Dunkin’. They are made with choux (a type of puff pastry) and baked or deep-fried, then stuffed with a sweet, creamy filling. While the NonnaBox recipe calls for pastry cream, the Peter Sciortino Bakery in Milwaukee offers them with either a custard filling or one made with sweetened ricotta, similar to that used in cannoli.
The final cherry on top of these zeppole is just that-a maraschino or candied cherry, either sweet or sour. While the cherry may be purely decorative, it could also be a reference to the medieval myth/Christmas carol in which Joseph, before the Nativity, is struck down by a cherry tree. However, he seems to have made his peace with the feisty fruit, which is a good thing, because zeppole di San Giuseppe wouldn’t look quite so pretty without it.
So when do you eat zeppole di San Giuseppe? The answer is St. Joseph’s Day, which falls on March 19. It’s a traditional Italian treat that many enjoy on this special occasion. Whether you prefer the classic pastry cream or the creamy ricotta filling, these zeppole are a delicious treat that pays homage to St. Joseph and his connection to the culinary world.
So on March 19, why not celebrate St. Joseph’s Day in true Italian fashion by enjoying a plate of Zeppole di San Giuseppe? It’s a delicious way to honor the patron saint and indulge in a delicious pastry that has a rich history and a special place in Italian culture. Enjoy!


1. What are Zeppole Di San Giuseppe?

Zeppole Di San Giuseppe are traditional Italian pastries made in honor of Saint Joseph. They are similar to cream puffs and are made with choux pastry that is baked or fried. The pastry is then filled with a sweet, creamy filling such as pastry cream or sweetened ricotta.

2. When is the best time to eat Zeppole Di San Giuseppe?

The best time to eat Zeppole Di San Giuseppe is on St. Joseph’s Day, celebrated on March 19th. This day is dedicated to the honor of St. Joseph and these dumplings have become a traditional treat on this special occasion.

3. What is the meaning of Zeppole Di San Giuseppe?

Zeppole di San Giuseppe are associated with Saint Joseph, who is said to have been a carpenter and later a confectioner. The pastry is a way to pay tribute to Saint Joseph and his culinary skills. They have become a symbol of celebration and tradition on his feast day.

4. What are the different fillings used in Zeppole di San Giuseppe?

Zeppole Di San Giuseppe can be filled with a variety of creamy fillings. The most common fillings are pastry cream, custard and sweetened ricotta. The choice of filling may vary according to personal preference and regional variations.

5. Can I make Zeppole Di San Giuseppe at home?

Absolutely! Zeppole Di San Giuseppe can be made at home with the right ingredients and recipe. There are many recipes available online that provide step-by-step instructions for making these delicious pasta dishes. It can be a fun and rewarding culinary project to try your hand at making Zeppole Di San Giuseppe from scratch.

6. Are Zeppole Di San Giuseppe only eaten on St. Joseph’s Day?

While St. Joseph’s Day is the traditional time to eat Zeppole Di San Giuseppe, these pastries can be enjoyed throughout the year. They are often found in Italian bakeries and pastry shops, and some people choose to indulge in them on other special occasions or as a sweet treat any time they crave them.

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