Easter and Spring Around the World: Memories from our cooks

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The first day of Spring is just weeks away, with many celebrations approaching quickly. When we think about food and springtime we all have different memories. Some of us look back at time spent with family around a table of many different dishes, others of us think of Easter and baskets full of candy. Some of us have vibrant colours flood our memories from the Holi Festival, while others think of being soaked in water for Smingus Dyngus. What do you think about when you think about spring holidays?

 

Agata Poznańska from Lublin, Poland says:

“What I like the most about Easter is, of course, gathering together with my family for a breakfast. But food is on my list right after that! The main role is played by egg. Joining a Polish table on Easter you can try eggs in different versions, hard-boiled, stuffed and many more. And salads! With all the colours our table looks like a beautiful spring garden. But I can’t forget about the cakes! We eat mazurki only once a year but they are definitely worth waiting for. My favourite are the ones with homemade kajmak, a Polish version of dulce de leche, but there are also mazurki that have plum and chocolate, and I love these too! My mom always makes these. I hope that Easter traditions will stay forever in our family.” 

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Sheuli Bowal from Kolkatta, India says: 

In India we celebrate the spring festival of Holi- a festival of colours! It is all about sharing love, unity, and brotherhood. Since my childhood I have been celebrating by playing with all different colours.  When I was small we were egarly waiting  for this festival; collecting different types of colours. After breakfast , We would go out from the house to play with these colours throwing them on our friends and family.  After cuple of hours playing with colours, water, and sometimes even mud, we returned home to get ready for the evening gathering, or party.  Traditionally in the evening, we go to each others houses, exchange sweets, take blessings from the elders, put dry colours on each others foreheads and wish, "Happy-Holi".  

Every Indian house has elaborate food arrangements on this festive eve.  We eat certain dishes during this time and even special drinks. One of these drinks is Thandai, it is a sweet, milky drink made from a mixture of almonds, fennel seeds, watermelon seeds, cardamom, rose petals, saffron, milk and sugar, and is said to give you great energy for the festival. I love to eat Papdi-chaat during Holi as well, it is a traditional street food filled with flavour! We also eat Peda and Gujiya for dessert during the celebrations. The first being an Indian sweet that is made using khoa and shaped into soft dense pieces. Gujiya on the other hand are fried dumplings stuffed with dried fruits that are eaten in the Eastern part of India during the festival. ”  

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You can join Sheuli in Krakow, Poland for her meal Holi Festival to enjoy these dishes and more.

 

Natalia Korcelli  Warsaw, Poland:

"I come from a family which wasn’t very ardent in Catholic religious practice, but my Mother has always observed fast days, and Good Friday was the most important fast day in the whole year. I have one beautiful and vivid memory of this day from the eighties (last century, of course). I am an only child, but I had many friends and although we lived in a very tiny appartement I was allowed to invite them for Good Friday’s lunch. My Mom cooked a huge pile of steaming hot jacket potatoes, provided us with some butter (or rather margarine), salt and plenty of napkins. We were sitting at the table, peeling hot potatoes, chatting and laughing and my Mom was busy in a kitchen, prepring all goodies for Easter."

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Marc Felton, from Buxton UK, currently living in Prague:

"Waking up to the fresh smell of Hot Cross Buns gently toasting in the oven, gives me the feeling of Easter time and the beginning of Spring. The bread is scattered with raisins and sprinkled with cinnamon, marked with the telltale white cross on top. Washing them down with freshly roasted coffee in my favourite mug stirs the sensation of longer days and warmer times to come. Nothing beats hunting for the chocolate bunnies and painted eggs while the lamb joint is being infused with the aromatic rosemary from the garden for our family Easter dinner. The roast potatoes, carrot and swede mash, and homemade mint sauce is a perfect way to accompany the succulent meat. Swirling around a red berried, full bodied Malbec is a combination to die for."

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Mayura Patil from Hyderabad, India currently living in Krakow, Poland:

"Spring is a time for rejuvenation and regeneration, Where I grew up, winters are not as severe as they are in Europe. Spring, notwithstanding, is a portal for the new there too, celebrated with festivals like Holi (a Hindu festival of colours), to Basant Panchami (a spring festival).

Easter, of course, has a deep religious connotation, with martyrdom and resurrection intrinsic to its meaning. While one mourns one also celebrates.  And food is intrinsic to celebration, everywhere. New recipes, new produce, new conversations and new discoveries. All intertwined in Spring and Easter."

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Magdalena Kasprzyk-Chevriaux  Krakow, Poland:

“An Easter table in Poland means a table filled with Easter eggs, święconka (Easter basket), hams, sausages, pâtés, horseradish and a special, festive edition of sour rye soup – żurek. Easter cakes: mazurek, baba and many other delicious foods! And, of course, family and good time.  When I was a kid, in the eighties, during the emergency state, stan wojenny, my parents organized together with the neighbours a common Easter breakfast that took place under our staircase, klatka schodowa. There was a big table for 10 adults and the same number of kids! It was one of the greatest Easter breakfasts in my whole life, mostly because we had a lot of fun.

Because I am married to a French guy, the food at our Easter table is mixed. As regards to the Polish aspect, I make stuffed eggs and I buy some hams and sausages from my favorite Stanisław Mądry or Podstolice, (all natural, no artificial additions). And also cook horseradish soup, a variation of żurek, make liver pâté, meat in aspic, and traditional Easter cakes like baba and mazurek, which at my home is a sort of sweet tart. Traditional root vegetable salad is also always served, I hated it when I was a kid, but now that I am an adult I love it!”

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You can join Magda and her family in Krakow, Poland on Easter morning to take part in their traditional Polish Easter Breakfast.

 

Ata Suto currently living in Prague, Czech Republic:

 "In Persian culture, spring is the most important season of the year. After the ancient Zoroastrian religion, the Persian new year starts on the day of the Spring equinox and it is the most important holiday. People clean their houses, buy new clothes and visit family members who live far away. At the moment of the astronomical beginning of the new year, people gather around a nicely decorated table, full of symbolic objects and foods: the "Haft Sinn". Usually there is garlic, vinegar, decorated eggs, fresh green sprouts, apple, sumac berries, senjed (wild olives), wheat pudding and some coins. The usual food is fish with dill and garlic rice. There are other customs that people perform to make the next year happy and prosperous."

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Elżbieta Mańkowska from Krakow, Poland:

"I spent my entire childchood in Zakopane. Before Easter we used to see our highlander girl friends appearing in our house bringing eggs and cheeses.  An old handsome highlander would deliver to us lamb and hand made oscypki, [a wonderful smoked mountain cheese]. Hares for the pâté were delivered to us by mail, sent by one of my father's brothers. And then the magic began! 

In the kitchen there were all kinds of devices and equipment for the meat or for shortcrust pastry and also different kinds of oven-pans and springforms. Everything was  bubbling and hissing but above all - smelled amazing. And so it was until the Holy Saturday, when after the family painted eggs, and after the blessing of food in a nearby church a real feast began."

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Ebru Erkan  Istanbul, Turkey

"Being a member of family with a great passion on nature and wild life, spring means to me start of harvest and discovery of new tastes. Our family tradition especially during spring and summer, was hiking out of Istanbul near to the black sea to gather mushrooms and prepare a great feast with mushroom dishes to enjoy with friends and family."

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Marta Bradshaw  Krakow, Poland:

“When I was little I remember making decorations for the Easter basket - a small container of food that we took to the local church to be blessed. In it was always things like bread, hard-boiled eggs, sausage, chocolate rabbits, little lambs made of sugar, all prettily dressed up with decorations and ribbons. My granny used to make this with me, but didn't go with me to the church. Instead, I went with my school friends. The whole idea was to return home with the blessed food, and have this the following day for Easter brunch. However, it never worked out that way - every year I returned home with an almost-empty basket. After all, those things were far too delicious to wait, and me, Arleta and Łukasz, well we had a long way to walk home! Nothing has changed since then.

Another vivid memory of Easter in Poland is the Smingus Dyngus tradition on Easter Monday, when everyone splashes water on each other. One Monday as a child, I found myself, half-asleep, in a cold bath of water, thanks to my grandmother and my aunt - I thought it was the best holiday ever. I loved running around with buckets of water, or with water pistols, as a child. What possibly could be more fun?”

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You can join Marta at her table in Krakow, Poland for a traditional Easter meal this Easter on Saturday or Sunday.

 

Kasia from Majdan Stary, Poland living in Warsaw, Poland:

"Spring means to me a fresh start. The whole world wakes up from winter sleep and blossoms. I wake up on Saturday, prepare freshly ground coffee and turn my face into the morning sun. A smile appears on my face. I go to the local market and come back home with fresh veggies and bunch of beautiful tulips - can’t imagine spring without them. I’m going to make some dinner, bake a cake and celebrate it with my friends. Asparagus, strawberries and chard rule my world now!"

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