Easter is one of the busiest times in the Christian cooking calendar. Every country has a customary Easter meal, with the timeless story inspiring foods that are rich in symbolism. To discover how the kitchens of other nations commemorate Easter, Engel & Völkers went exploring.
A centuries-old English dish, this is a traditional fruitcake with layers of almond cream. On top of the cake there should be twelve marzipan balls, representing Jesus and his eleven apostles, with Judas deliberately absent. Simnel Cake was traditionally baked and eaten on the middle Sunday of Lent, when fasting rules were usually slightly relaxed. In England, this coincides with Mother's Day.
This Mexican dish contains a rather strange assortment of flavours: essentially a bread pudding, capirotada ingredients also include cloves, peanuts, apricots, walnuts, cheese and potentially several others, depending on each closely-guarded family recipe. The bread is a crispy, baguette-style loaf, representing the body of Christ, which is then soaked in clove syrup, symbolising Christ's blood. Raisins are added to signify the nails of the cross, with whole cinnamon sticks denoting the wood. Melted cheese across the top represents the holy shroud. One of the most overtly symbolic Easter dishes, capirotada is usually eaten on Good Friday.
This Greek dish, also called lampropsomo, meaning 'Easter bread', is a sweet, brioche-like bread, enriched with cherry essence and almonds and often served braided or knotted. Hard-boiled eggs, dyed with red food colouring, are usually embedded on top of the bread to represent the blood of Christ. It is traditional for Greek children to offer tsoureki as gifts to their godparents at Easter time. In a role reversal, there is a similar dish in Spain called Mona de Pascua, which godparents make for their godchildren.
Similar to the hot cross buns that have long been a tradition in the UK, Australia and New Zealand, pinca is a sweet bread roll popular in Slovenia, Croatia, and parts of northern Italy. It is very egg-heavy, more so than other breads, with a cross etched into the top of each roll that expands during the baking process. Pinca is served at the end of Lent as a breakfast dish, and is often exchanged by worshippers at Easter mass.
In Russia, this curd cheese and custard dish is baked to celebrate the end of Lent - its name literally translates as Easter. The ingredients are poured into a pyramid mould that represents the church, with the white colour of the dish symbolising Christ's purity. Chopped nuts and candied fruit can be used to decorate the pyramid, and traditionally the Cyrillic letters 'XB', an abbreviation of 'Christ is risen', are spelled out in almond flakes. The paskha is taken to church to be blessed before consumption.
There's no better way to learn more about foreign cultures than to spend some time living abroad. If you're interested in purchasing a second home in any of these countries, there's a local Engel & Völkers shop that could help you on your way. For more information, just visit our E&V website.