The Caleno glove, the fried specialty of Calvi Risorta

by Federico Quagliuolo

Gloves have never tasted so good. Specifically we are not talking about leather processing, where the Health District is still an excellence today, but of a sweet very similar to the staple. Is called "Caleno glove”And is produced, as the name suggests, in Calvi Risorta, the city born on the ashes of the ancient Cales.

The recipe is a matter exclusively female, handed down orally from generation to generation for about three centuries. In the month of May, the "Glove Festival“, Just to pay homage to this dessert.

Guanto Caleno
Photograph by Slow Guides

Zunino glove or Caleno glove?

Its shape resembles that of a crown and in fact the taste is proper worthy of a king.
The thing therefore could not escape the gluttonous Ferdinand IV of Bourbon, worthy representative of a dynasty lover of Campania cuisine, which was honored at the end of the 18th century with this dessert on the occasion of a visit to the Terra di Lavoro.
According to the legend handed down from the parts of Calvi Risorta, the "glove" took this name in 1776. During a popular festival, an elderly lady would have exclaimed "it looks like a glove!”After seeing the pasta wrapped around his hand.

The glove should more correctly be called "Zunino glove", As the story took place in Zuni, which is a hamlet of Cales.

The Treaty of Utrecht in a glove

More likely, the history of the dessert is indirectly linked to the times of Treaty of Utrecht of 1713, which delivered the Kingdom of Naples to the Austrians. On that occasion, in fact, the foreign soldiers brought numerous to Naples Northern European recipes, including that of Krapfen, who is technically the dad of the Neapolitan staple.

It is very likely that the preparation of the fried dessert has reached Calvi Risorta thanks to cultural and culinary influences of the capital, all the more because the land of the town was owned by the barons Luigi and Muzio Zona, the latter was proto-doctor of the court of Charles of Bourbon, therefore in close contact with the city reality. It was he who donated the family chapel to the people of Zuni in 1776, giving rise to the party which gave birth to the caleno glove.

Guanto Caleno

The Caleno glove and the pasta dish

A metropolitan legend of the Caserta area links the tradition of the Caleno glove to the "Box of pasta" to take home with relatives on Sunday or to serve at the end of wedding receptions.
In fact, in the Calvi Risorta area it is tradition offer a tray of gloves on the occasion of feasts and from this tradition some have assumed that the tray has got the name of the sweets (or vice versa, an already more plausible hypothesis).

Actually the term "glove box“, However much it is commonly used in Campania today again, it has no Neapolitan origins. The Treccani etymological dictionary explains that the glove box was a tray or a small box in which guests could put away the gloves (this time the leather ones!). The tray for serving refreshments and, even more distantly, the pastry tray.

Also Manzoni, a decidedly non-southern writer, mentioned the glove box in the Betrothed.

History and recipe

It is not a dessert that is easily found in pastry shops and has a limited distribution to the territory. Even the tools to make it are typically caleni and have a nickname: glove (a toothed wheel prepared by local artisans), mazelle (the splint on which to work the glove), rattaròla (grater).


00 flour, sugar, milk, olive oil, yeast, a drop of anise or vermouth, grated lemon zest. In the past, bicarbonate was used instead of yeast.

Preparation of the Caleno Glove:

You have to whip the eggs with salt and sugar. Then the vanilla, grated lemon and oil are added. The dough is mixed with flour and yeast. According to tradition, this process was carried out on the piece of furniture used to knead the bread.

The liqueur and a little remaining flour must be added to the mixture. Once everything is blended, you need to let it rest for about an hour.

From here, many loaves must be formed, which are then rolled out and cut into strips (about 3-4 fingers wide and about 1.5 centimeters high), to be obtained with a toothed wheel, in the absence of a glove.
Everything must be folded in two and then closed, as if it were a ring, and then fried in vegetable oil as happens with staples.
The fried dough must be dried quickly, then the sugar must be added.

The caleno glove should be eaten, if possible, while still hot.

-Federico Quagliuolo


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