Get to know the classic dishes from the likes of Ecuador and Greece.
Christmas is often held up as the best time of the year for food, but Easter is no slouch.
In the UK, it’s a time for lamb, hot cross buns, simnel cakes and a whole lot of chocolate. But what about everywhere else?
While chocolate eggs are a common theme, everywhere from Russia to Argentina have their own culinary traditions – both for Lent and for celebrating the end of Holy Week. Here are a few…
Many dishes across the world are laden with religious symbolism, making them more than just food – and Argentina’s speciality is no different.
Rosca de Pascua is a loaf of bread baked in the shape of a ring, to symbolise eternal life. The bread is similar to brioche, and is topped with crème pâtissière, candied cherries and almonds.
Sometimes hard-boiled eggs are baked into the bread, although nowadays you’re more likely to see the chocolate variety instead.
It’s understandable that many Easter traditions focus on indulgent treats, as a reward for the traditional fast during Lent. However, there are also many savoury dishes on the menu.
Christians tend to eat fish on Good Friday, which is probably why bacalhoada – salted cod stew – is so popular in Brazil. The dish tends to call for the cod to be soaked in salt and is often then stewed with potatoes, onions, tomatoes and olives. It’s also a popular Easter dish in Portugal.
Many Christian households in Ecuador eat fanesca during the week leading up to Easter.
It’s quite similar to bacalhoada, and is a soup with a cod base and includes beans, vegetables, peanuts, hard-boiled eggs, fried plantain and empanadas. Fish is an ancient Christian symbol, so the cod represents Jesus. It includes 12 different types of beans, to symbolise the 12 apostles.
You’ll notice a recurring theme on this list, and that’s of sweetened bread. Greece’s Easter version is called tsoureki, which is traditionally braided in three sections to symbolise the Holy Trinity.
It’s taste comes from the spices mahlab (made from ground cherry stones) and mastic (which comes from the pine tree).
Again, hard-boiled eggs are often stuffed into the loaves, and are often dyed red, to represent the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.
The award for most innovative design goes to Italy with its colomba di Pasqua, which means “Easter Dove” in English.
This is a traditional Easter cake shaped, you guessed it, like a dove – the symbol of peace (although admittedly you need a bit of imagination to bring it to life).
It’s very similar to a Christmas panettone, but doesn’t feature raisins. It’s also baked with an almond topping that turns crunchy in the oven.
Capirotada is essentially a Mexican bread pudding, which is traditionally eaten on Good Friday.
The base recipe is made up of bolillo (a bread similar to baguette), a spiced syrup, dried fruit, nuts and cheese. Some recipes include a meat layer.
Full of symbolism, the bread represents Christ’s body; the syrup his blood; the cloves the nails on the cross; the cinnamon sticks the wood and the cheese the Holy Shroud. If you take a look on Instagram, many modern cooks seem to favour covering theirs in sprinkles, but we doubt that is representative of anything.
Another traditional dish in Portugal is folar. It’s a type of sweet bread that contains boiled eggs, which serve as a symbol of Christ’s rebirth.
There are many regional variations of the bread – for example, some are stuffed with ham, and others go down the sweet route and have layers of sugar and cinnamon.
In Russia, Easter is known as “Pascha,” and there are two desserts that are specifically used to celebrate the end of Lent: Kulich and pashka. Kulich is a type of sweetened bread almost like brioche, baked in a tall, cylindrical loaf tin. It sits as the centrepiece of the Easter spread, surrounded by meats and cheeses.
Pashka is a cheese dessert made using quark, honey, dried fruit and almonds. It is made in a mould which traditionally has the letters “XB” on it, which stands for: “Christ is Risen.” It is often spread on slices of kulich.
If you’ve really got a sweet tooth, you could do no worse than head to Spain at Easter. The signature dish is torrijas, which is similar to French toast.
According to legend, it was created by nuns in the 15th century because it looks like roast meat – something Catholics were forbidden to eat over Lent.
Essentially you soak slices of bread in milk and whatever additions you want (such as honey, sugar, cinnamon or alcohol). You then dip the bread in egg and fry until golden.