Monday, April 13, 2009

a tale of two loaves

Happy Easter!

But what happened to Lent?

It seems like only a few weeks ago that we were celebrating Dimanche Gras with a Kings Cake, the picture of which I never got around to publishing.
Basically these two things are the same. But the Kings Cake has a hidden object - coin, nut or plastic baby - and unpleasant purple, green and gold frosting - the carnival colors of New Orleans, while the Greek Easter Bread has red eggs embedded - red for the blood of Christ and eggs for new life (though not much new life once they are hard boiled!). The sesame seeds on the Easter version are a straightforward fertility symbol, I think.
But there's something basic about celebrating holidays - any holiday - with a festive sweetened bread. I'm sure that in between Mardi Gras and Easter the Sicilians have a similar recipe for St. Joseph's Day (my name day, March 19) and the English have buns that are hot and cross for Good Friday. (Irish soda bread on St. Patrick's Day - no yeast, no eggs, little fat - doesn't cut it - sorry!)
And who can forget panetone and stollen.
Portuguese sweet bread is a similar dough, too - but I'm not aware that it's associated with any particular holiday. Perhaps the Portuguese are more ad lib with their celebrations?
And of course the French brioche - not sweet, but richer - those French!
A serious account of What I Did for Lent This Year plus some updates on food issue reading will follow this post soon.

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