March 19 is the Feast of St. Joseph, a saint who is especially venerated in Italy. Traditionally, sweet morsels known as zeppole are consumed on the feast day, which (like St. Patrick's Day) is considered a day exempt from Lenten fasting and abstinence. Zeppole can be found in two forms, the most common is a fried fritter which is typically dredged with confectioners' sugar. This form, which dates back to antiquity, is often a featured menu item in pizzerias in the Northeastern United States, which typically use pizza dough to make them.
The more refined form of zeppole, also known as sfinge, are fried pastries made with pâte a choux, and filled with cream or custard. This form of zeppole probably originated in Eighteenth-Century Naples. Most bakeries make both cream and custard filled varieties, but why force yourself to choose? You know you want one of each.
The simple type of zeppole can be commonly found in pizzerias, and is a staple at carnivals and fairs. The second type can be found at any worthy Italian bakery, in my neck of the woods, Delite Bake Shop on Yonkers Avenue and Artuso's Pastry Shop on McLean Avenue make particularly good ones.