Easter is celebrated all over the world with a myriad of different traditions. There are many tasty delights and national seasonal treats that lots of us haven’t even heard of, let alone tried. While our festivities usually include roast lamb, hot cross buns and chocolate eggs, other cultures have some very unique culinary traditions. Most of these are rich, indulgent foods created to take full advantage of the end of fasting for Lent. So why not indulge in some international delicacies this Easter season?
Casatiello, from Italy
Casatiello is a dish from Naples, Italy that is made exclusively at Easter. It is a bread stuffed with boiled eggs, cheeses and meats, particularly salami. This dish dates back a long time, being mentioned in an Italian fairytale from the 17th century.
Babka, from the Baltic region
Babka is a cake made with yeast, dry or candied fruit mixed, and sometimes drizzled with icing. The name comes from ‘babcia’, Polish for ‘grandmother’. Not to be confused with the similar dish of the same name in Jewish cuisine, which is made by twisting the dough to make a swirl of bread and chocolate or cinnamon.
Flaouna, from Cyprus
Some readers may remember this dish as a technical challenge on the Great British Bake Off. This Cypriot, sweet-savoury pastry is filled with cheese and raisins or sultanas. It also uses some unusual seasonings; mastica, a resin from the mastic tree, and mehlepi, a spice made from cherry stones.
Simnel cake, from Germany
This one has spread to the UK and can be found on the shelves of many supermarkets here. It is a spiced fruit cake, with a layer of marzipan (almond paste) in the middle and on top. Dating back to the middle ages, it was originally created for ‘Simnel Sunday’ – the third Sunday of Lent where people would go to their ‘mother’ church where they were baptised. This evolved into Mother’s Day. A later addition to the recipe is the decoration of a ring of 11 balls of marzipan on the top, made to represent Jesus’ disciples (except Judas).
Butter lamb, from Russia, Slovenia and Poland
Not much description needed for this one – it’s butter, sculpted or moulded into the shape of a lamb with peppercorns or cloves for eyes. This has also taken off in the Midwest USA. This is a tradition for many Polish Catholic families.
Ma’amoul, from Jordan, Lebanon, Syria
These are small shortbread biscuits flavoured with orange blossom and rosewater, filled with dates and nuts. The filled dough is pressed into a wooden mould to create a pretty pattern on the surface. These are also made and eaten for the Muslim holiday of Eid, in the same countries.
Šoldra, from Poland and Czech Republic
Some combination of sausage, smoked meat and ham baked into bread dough. The dough can be thick like a loaf of bread, or thin like pastry. It seems like a similar concept to a sausage roll, but with much better quality meat inside!
So there you have it, a sampling of Easter delicacies from around the world: lots of rich meats, fluffy breads and sugary desserts. How many had you heard of?