Dear Fatties, the long weekend is upon us. Whether you celebrate Easter or Passover and no matter where in the world you’re from there are traditional foods to experience and interesting stories to go along with them. Ready to learn all the things? We went down the rabbit hole and got our history geek on for you.
1. Easter food – Hot crossed buns: these sweet buns infused with currants and raisins make an appearance every Spring.
Traditionally eaten from the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday to midday on Good Friday (during Lent) these buns are common in the UK, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Carribbean, South Africa, Ireland and India.
English folklore suggests buns baked on Good Friday won’t spoil.
2. British Easter food – Simnel cake: admittedly we hadn’t heard about this until our office was invaded by a Brit. It’s a light fruit cake (think candied orange peels and cherries) with two layers of marzipan throughout it. The toasted cake is traditionally decorated with eleven or twelve marzipan balls to represent the 12 Apostles of Christ – oh the symbolism!
Simnel cake was traditionally given by servant girls to their mothers when they returned on Mothering Sunday. WTF is Mothering Sunday? It’s celebrated in some parts of Europe by Catholic and Protestant Christians on the fourth Sunday of Lent.
By the way, Mothering Sunday is the inspiration behind what we in North America celebrate as Mother’s Day.
3. Passover food – Matzah ball soup: we already know Jewish comfort food is great and Toronto restauranteurs are more than aware of this as evidenced by spots like Fat Pascha. Matzah ball soup is a traditional Ashkenazi Jewish food made of a chicken soup, bread-ish Matzah balls. The balls are made of matzah meal, eggs, water and schmaltz. The distinct flavour of the balls and soup is due to the schmaltz. And yes that translates to chicken fat.
No one seems to be able to agree if it’s matzo or matzah, for the record.
4. Passover tradition – Seder plate: the Seder plate isn’t actually something you devour but it’s a beautiful tradition and the dishes themselves come in all kinds of designs. Each of the six foods on the Passover Seder plate is symbolic of part of the Exodus from Egypt.
5. Easter food – Lamb: this one’s actually quite universal. Lamb is also seen as part of a Seder table sometimes. The significance of lambs in Biblical/Torah times is pretty far reaching, going all the way back to the book of Genesis. Lambs are always being sacrificed. We could delve into all kinds of historic and religious information but we’ll leave it at this – Apparently a whole roasted lamb became the official Easter meal of the Pope, many Papacies ago. Since then it’s been adapted across Easter celebrations, though the whole lamb isn’t necessary all the time.
What’s your favourite traditional Easter food? Found any fun stories about it?