Easter Feasters

2010-03-27 10:52

ALTHOUGH

Easter is a Christian festival, it piggybacks on a much ­older ­pagan festival –

the celebration of spring; hence the eggs.

Eggs

are universally a symbol of rebirth and fertility and represent the eternal

cycle of life and death. They are also one of nature’s most versatile foods.

Originally

called Pascha after the Jewish Passover festival, the holiday, which is

determined by the ­lunar calendar – which is why it is called a “moveable feast”

– became known as Easter, a word that is thought to have evolved from “Eostre”,

the ­name of the Anglo-Saxon goddess of fertility and spring.

History

aside, holidays are (for me, at least) all about the food – and there is plenty

associated with Easter. These days too, thanks to a combination of marketing and

chocoholism, everybody celebrates this holiday with chocolate bunnies and eggs

of every size and price.

However,

in the run-up to Easter Sunday’s egg hunt there’s Good Friday’s dinner to take

care of and it’s often lamb, a tradition carried over from Passover. According

to Larousse Gastronomique, the traditional lamb dinner goes back to the Biblical

days when God killed the first-born children of Egypt, sparing only the Jewish

children.

In

Catholic tradition, Easter follows the abstinence of Lent so it ­includes many

varied culinary treats to make up for the deprivation of that period. In most

parts of the world eggs play a prominent role on Easter menus and in South

Africa many families eat pickled fish at Easter. Of course, in keeping with the

sweet theme many cakes and ­biscuits are also particular to Easter, with

England’s simnel cake being one of them. This is a fruit cake decorated with 11

marzipan balls representing Jesus’s disciples, minus ­Judas. In Germany the

Ostertorte is a sponge cake filled with mocha- ­flavoured butter cream and

decorated with chocolate eggs.

When

you have blown out the eggs to paint the shells, use the insides to make this

version of simnel cake adapted from the Green Chronicle, or make this easy egg

dressing for traditional roast lamb or fish ­(salmon works best).

 


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