Eating in Puglia: Easter traditions
It is well known that food is a holy thing for Apulians, even more during religious holidays, like Easter, when every meal tells about ancient rituals, traditions, refers to Christianity, especially the Resurrection of Christ and, usually the Spring return. The typical Apulian Easter table is rich of vegetables with lamb, the real lead of Easter traditions, and eggs, of course.
Starters: “Benedetto”, eggs & co.
The Apulian Easter table starts with “Benedetto”, a starter made of salame or capocollo of Martina Franca, boiled eggs, oranges, ricotta cheese and olives. The dish is sprinkled with holy water taken from the church after Easter Mass with an olive branch. The name comes from the opening of the Easter lunch with a blessing and prayers. The Benedetto can be accompanied with fresh fava beans, olives and taralli.
The lamb, king of Easter
Apulians don’t have a typical easter first dish; the lead of the table is the lamb, indeed. Barbecue, baked in oven, stewed, served with peas, potatoes or “lampascioni”, a kind of bulbs/onions very healthy. Lamb is the absolute Easter symbol, it represents Jesus Christ, “Lamb of God”, originated from Easter Jewish sacrificial rituals. After lamb, a triumph of artichokes, cauliflowers, ricotta cheese, all rigorously deep fried. Hey, what Easter in the South would be otherwise?
Apulian Easter desserts
After the big lunch you should always have a place in your stomach for desserts. Kids usually have the traditional chocolate egg, while adults, in addition to Easter Dove cake (industrial or bakery-made), bring in table the typical pastry lamb, a sweet made of almond paste, then the delicious “pastiera napoletana” made with ricotta cheese and wheat, and the sweet tooth “scarcelle”, made of shortbread dove-shaped (or other spring elements), decorated with sprinkles, boiled eggs or chocolate eggs. Simple but tasty, it symbolizes a new life’s born.
…and on Easter Monday?
We cannot forget Easter Monday, a day dedicated to picnic and short trips. Everyone brings something to eat together, then let’s go with bellyful of “calzone di cipolle” (onion pie, typical in Lent but liked every time, made with “sponzali”, a kind of onions), torta pasqualina (a pie made with boiled eggs, spinach or artichoke), rolled up spinach and ricotta pie (Jewish tradition), barbecue and a lot of wine.