Click here to listen to Anna Trapido in conversation with Phemelo Motene on Weekend Breakfast while reading the notes below...
Easter is a very foodie festival featuring predominantly chocolate eggs (and bunnies and sometimes chickens too), Roast lamb, hot cross buns, Cape pickled fish etc, etc
Easter is ostensibly associated with Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection so one would expect the food to somehow be linked to things that happen in the Bible but some of these links are very tenuous.
The links are tenuous because the festival of Easter predates Christianity. As a result many of the food symbols belong to an earlier time... · Some belong to very ancient, northern European Saxon religious beliefs around spring and birth/ rebirth. Obviously April is spring in the Northern Hemisphere. · Others can be traced into Middle Eastern Jewish Passover food traditions.
The ancient northern hemisphere origins of Easter traditions:
- Obviously April is spring in the Northern Hemisphere. Spring is a huge big deal in a part of the world where winter is very cold and dark and nothing will grow. That rebirth and new shoots would seem like a miracle.
- The - Saxon goddess of light, spring and new life was called Eostre.
- The early Christian church in Europe attached their concept of Christ’s resurrection to an existing pagan festival of rebirth/ spring.
- So all the spring lambs, eggs, bunnies (they have lots of babies) stuff has been brought in from an earlier time and religion.
The Jewish roots of Easter traditions: · Others Easter traditions relate to Jewish Passover rituals. · Passover is also celebration of redemption from enslavement – so it is also about new life. · The original celebration centred around the Passover sacrificial lamb. · Jesus refers to himself as a sacrificial lamb. · John the Baptist calls him the lamb of God.
IF YOU ARE LOOKING FOR THE BEST LAMB IN TOWN · Bistro Michel at the Blubird Center has an absolutely glorious lamb shank braised with red wine and port: 011 440 0769. PLUS IT’S THE BEST VALUE IN TOWN. For April you get 50% back on your total bill in vouchers for your next meal. Saturday Open lunch dinner, open Sunday Lunch, open Monday Lunch. · Cheese Gourmet in Linden have a range of Karoo lamb pies for people who want to stay at home.
THE BEST CHOCOLATE EGGS AND CHOCOLATE BUNNIES Culinary Equipment Company in Lanseria has Belgian chocolate eggs to make your heart sing. They also have life size and more than life size Belgian chocolate bunnies for R250.
Pre Christian origins of Hot Cross Buns: · Long before anyone outside of the Middle East had heard of Christ, the ancestors of our hot cross buns (enriched yeast dough with crosses on the top) were being made to celebrate the idea of seasonal and spiritual resurrection that is bound into pagan spring festival celebrations.
· The cross on the top of these early buns was a symbol of the 4 quarters of the moon which was thought to be controlled by the Goddess of light and spring; Eostre.
· Many speculate that the folk song’s focus on giving Hot Cross Buns to daughters in preference to sons is a reference to the fertility goddess buns of days past.
ALTHOUGH THERE ARE THOSE WHO SAY THAT THEY CAN FIND BIBLICAL JUSTIFICATION FOR THE BUNS - Each ingredients carries a reminder of the suffering of Christ - the cloves being the nails on the cross, the cinnamon sticks the wooden cross and the dough/bread the Body of Christ himself.
BEST HOT CROSS BUNS THIS YEAR ARE AT THE CHEESE GOURMET (Linden) Organic flour, great balance of fruit and spice, nice sticky glaze. R35 for 6.They are baked fresh each day but they suggest that you book your buns to avoid disappointment – 011 888 53 84.They are open on Saturday but not on Sunday or Monday.
BEST OF THE SUPERMARKET BUNS: Of the more supermarketty brands: I tried them all and I liked the Spar ones best. Spar Traditional Hot Cross Bun R16.99. Lots of spice and lots of fruit.
THE GREAT SA QUESTION – DO YOU HAVE PICKLED FISH WITH YOUR BUNS?
· This is a South African specific Easter food. · Pickled fish is more of a Cape Town thing but we do find it to a certain extent in Gauteng. · All over the Cape Good Friday church services which have historically involved Cape Christians spending most of the day in their houses of worship and returning home at 3pm (the time at which Jesus is presumed to have died) to break their fast with pickled fish and hot cross buns. · The rationale is found in the Bible. In Luke 24 Jesus uses fish to prove his resurrection. He appears to his
Disciples “and while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement he asked them ‘do you have anything to eat?’ They gave him a piece of broiled fish and he took it and ate it in their presence.” · As to why there is vinegar in the recipe John 19 (which describes Roman soldiers offering a vinegar-soaked sponge to Jesus on the cross) is cited.
WHAT I HAVE MADE FOR EASTER: FANTASTIC SEPHARIC PASSOVER CAKE:
This Sephardic orange and almond cake is adapted from Claudia Roden’s A New Book of Middle Eastern Food. 3 medium oranges
6 eggs, separated
225g caster sugar
200g ground almonds
1tsp baking powder
Place the whole, unpeeled fruit in water to cover. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer until soft (at least 1½ hours). Add more water as necessary. Take the oranges off the heat, drain and discard the liquid. Chop the oranges in half, remove the pips and blend everything else (including the peel) in a food-processor until smooth. Allow the puree to cool.
Pre heat the oven to 180C.
Beat the egg yolks and sugar together in a large bowl until pale. Beat in the oranges, almonds, and baking powder. Whisk the egg whites to soft peak and fold gently into the mixture.
Pour into a 23cm cake tin and bake until firm to the touch (about one hour).
Cover with a loose sheet of foil if over-browning. Cool in the tin.