Easter Sunday is a major Christian holiday. Christ rose from the dead!
Some recollections of my Italian Easter.
As a boy, I recall everyone dressing and going to Church on Easter Sunday. I always had a suit which I had to wear that day. The whole family dressed. This was not an Italian thing alone. My recollection is everyone, regardless of ethnic background, dressed.
It was like Easter Sunday on Fifth Avenue. People nodding Happy Easters as they passed on the way to and from Church.
Dinners were festive family events.
As a boy, we ate at my grandparents’. My father’s parents. Aunts, uncles and cousins. Card tables added to the already large kitchen table to accommodate everyone.
We were poor. The holiday meal was grandiose nevertheless. Pasta, of course. Sauce meats such as meatballs, pork and beef. No roasts. They came many years later when some family members became financially sufficient. Chickens instead. Male chickens which had been neutered. Referred to as capons. Cheap in comparison to meats. Denutting the roosters made them grow larger and their meat more tender.
There was Easter bread. Bland large pieces of bread home made with 2-3 hard boiled eggs (still in their shells) cooked into the bread. Not one of my favorites. No taste.
Easter eggs were colored by boiling onion skins and dipping the eggs in the brown residue. It was years before I knew people actually colored eggs by buying paints.
Soap was used to write names on the eggs before dunking them in the onion liquid.
As time progressed, two items began appearing that were not there in earlier years. I cannot recall exactly when. Both items became my favorites. Cassata and sausage pie.
Cassata absolutely the best!
Its basis was ricotta. Added was lemon, chocolate chips, candied fruit including red and green cherries, and a bit of liquor.
The result was a pie. Cassata pie.
Baked in a 3 inch deep dish. The dish wide/large. A thick hard crust surrounding the entire dish. Top, sides and bottom.
Cooled in the refrigerator. Generally enough to pick on for at least a week. The taste divine.
I recall my mother and wife making it. Lisa does a stripped down version. A small pie vanilla flavored. She does not add the chocolate, candied fruits, etc.
Needless to say, a heavy dish. Once consumed, it stayed with you for a while.
The other I could die for Easter dish was sausage pie. Sausage and mozzarella baked in a typical pie fashion dish. As with the cassata, totally enclosed in crust.
Sausage pie was really heavy. More so than the cassata. Large amounts could not be consumed at one time. Its great taste kept one coming back however for days consuming small slices.
My wife was Sicilian. She brought the Sicilian touch to our Easter dinner table. Lamb. As the family grew, so did the meat variations. A prime rib and stuffed meat roll of some sort were added.
I want to conclude writing about an item not Italian nor something I experienced. Rather it involves a story few are aware of. So for the first time, I share a brief history of Easter eggs. Not the brown onion skin colored ones my grandmother made. This story goes back hundreds of years and involves Christ himself.
At a time following Christ having risen from the dead, Easter eggs became popular. Born of Christ’s crucifixion and having risen from the dead.
The hard boiled egg came to symbolize the empty tomb of Jesus. Cracking the egg represented Christ leaving the tomb. The eggs at the time were stained a bright red. So colored in memory of the blood Christ shed at the time of His crucifixion.
Happy Easter my friends!