Easter season is already here, which means that the colourful eggs and the delicious chocolate bunnies are back. Easter is the biggest Christian holiday and many countries all around the world celebrate it. As in other celebrations, at Easter it is common to cook something something extraordinary using all the foodstuffs that have been forbidden during Lent.
Some of these desserts and dishes are known and cooked worldwide. It is the case of the chocolate eggs or the lamb, for example. We have already published an article where we talked about the paschalino arni in Greece, l’agneau de Pâques in France and l’agnello al forno, arrosto (roasted) or fritto (fried) in Italy. The Easter lamb is also prepared in Portugal (borrego asado) and England (roasted lamb).
Nevertheless, in many other countries there are a lot of typical desserts, pastries and dishes that, although not as well known, are also delicious. Read on to find out more about some of them.
In Spain, Easter is not Easter without torrijas – slices of stale bread soaked in milk and coated with egg, fried in olive oil and served with sugar all over it– or without leche frita (fried milk). There are also some delicious regional desserts, like the pestiños in Andalucía (a piece of dough fried in olive oil and glazed with sugar), the filloas in Galicia (similar to the French crêpes) and the monas de Pascua that godfathers usually give to their godchild at this time of the year in Catalonia, Valencia and Murcia. Although there are many variations, the traditional mona de Pascua is a brioche with hard-boiled eggs on top of it. Nowadays it is also possible to find monas as cakes with chocolate eggs and different decorations like feathers or baby chick figurines.
However, there is more than just desserts! In Spain, it is also typical to prepare a potaje de vigilia at Easter. It is a kind of stew prepared with chickpeas, cod and spinach eaten on Fridays of Lent. Since meat is forbidden during this period, the cod and the chickpeas provide enough protein.
In the other country of the Iberian Peninsula, the Portuguese usually eat the folar de Páscoa. The basic folar is a sweet bread made with flour, water, eggs, sugar, lemon zest and margarine, with a boiled egg on top of it. However, there are many variations of the recipe, so it is possible to also find fennel, cinnamon or anise in some of them.
In the boot of Europe, the colomba is a very typical Easter dessert. It is a dove-shaped sweet bread, very similar to the panettone, with candied fruits or cream inside and covered with almonds and sugar. Italians also prepare the schiacciata di Pasqua, typical from Tuscany, which is a sweet bread flavoured with aniseed, and the torta pasqualina, a cake coming from Liguria filled with chard, ricotta and boiled eggs.
In the south of Italy, also other typical Easter dishes are prepared. In Naples, for example, they eat the pastiera napoletana (a wheat cake prepared with ricotta cheese, candied peel and orange flower water) and the casatiello dolce napoletano, another typical Easter cake also known as pigna di Pasqua and whose main feature is that it is made with criscito (fermented dough). However, the non-sweet version is better known: the casatiello napoletano is a salty bread that can be stuffed with different kinds of meats and cheeses and with hard-boiled eggs on top of it.
Ireland and Great Britain
At Easter, Irish and British usually eat the simnel cake, a tasty fruit cake covered by a layer of marzipan and decorated with eleven marzipan balls that represent the eleven disciples of Jesus Christ (excluding Judas). Although the simnel cake is nowadays eaten on Easter Sunday, it was traditionally prepared for the fourth Sunday of Lent, also known as the Mothering Sunday, which explains why this cake is also associated with Mother’s Day.
Hot cross buns are also a typical British and Irish Easter recipe, although they are also eaten in New Zealand, Australia or Canada. They are spiced sweet buns made with flour, raisins and spices, but many variations can be found. They are marked with an icing cross on top that is said to represent the cross on which Jesus Christ died.
In Poland, many delicious typical dishes and desserts are prepared at this time of the year. Żurek is a very popular sour rye soup, made from soured rye flour and garnished with a boiled egg and white kiełbasa, which is a Polish white sausage.
For dessert, Polish people prepare mazurek. Apart from a dance and a type of music, mazurek is also a typical Easter flat cake that can be made of one or two sheets of shortcrust pastry and covered with another sheet of sponge cake. A layer of marmalade keeps both sheets together, and another layer of icing covers the top. Dried fruits, candied fruits or nuts are used to decorate the cake.
Another typical Easter Polish dessert is babka, a sweet yeast bread similar to the Italian panettone sometimes also baked with rum-soaked raisins. It can be covered with a layer of icing or be left plain.
The typical Easter sweet bread in Bulgaria – although it is also prepared in Romania or Serbia – is called козунак (cozonac). Cozonac is made with milk, yeast, butter, sugar and eggs, but there are many regional variations and we can find Turkish delights, raisins, nuts or lemon zest in some of them. Almond shavings or caster sugar can be also used to cover the top of this delicious sweet bread.
In Slovenia, Easter festivities start with the traditional Slovenian Easter breakfast, consisting of cooked ham, horseradish – a slightly spicy plant eaten to accompany the ham –, bread and the traditional coloured hardboiled eggs known as pihri, decorated with flowers and coloured naturally.
For dessert, Slovenes usually eat their typical Easter cake, the potica, a nut roll pastry eaten for dessert. The most traditional version includes walnuts, but the nut paste or filling can also include pecans, honey, dried fruits, chocolate or poppy seeds.
Hungry? Don’t hesitate to try out these typical Easter recipes and enjoy the deliciousness that European cultures provide! Our special thanks to all the trainees who cooperated with us and told us what they eat in their country at this time of the year.
TermCoord wishes you all a Happy Easter!
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Written by Irene Arto Escuredo, Schuman Terminology Trainee at the Terminology Coordination Unit (DG TRAD). She holds a BA in Translation and Interpreting by the University of Salamanca (Spain) and is currently carrying out a Master’s degree in Institutional Translation.