April 11, 2007

Beyond bunnies....

Easter isn't just about chocolate bunnies for many.
I was told of Greek Easter a couple weeks ago. Steve said it strangely falls on the same day as Christian Easter this year. I was intrigued to learn how it differed from our usual Easter filled with *bunnies, chocolate and eggs*. I wasn't exactly interested in the whole "Why we celebrate Easter" bits of detail. I just wanted to find out more about its festive foods!~ Su loves her edible celebrations *giggle*
I was lucky to be in Melbourne last Easter Sunday. I've been enlightened from a reliable source* (don't quote me on this) :P, that the city of Melbourne has the largest Greek population out of Athens (The capital of Greece). You can imagine much Greek influence throughout the city.
On a hunt for post-dinner coffee and sweets; I zero-ed in on an "International" Cake House on Bourke St. It wasn't exactly what I had expected from what was on the neon sign; but was pleasantly surprised with many Greek Easter delicacies! We went in and I approached the counter completely clueless of what to expect. There was a long queue of local Greeks before me; which I guess was a sign of good desserts being sold! I snapped a couple of photographs whilst desperately trying to pronounce the foreign words on the labels. I felt I made a sound effort; but decided to stick to the fail-proof "point, smile and that" technique. *laughs* I had a few minutes to watch the Greeks box away stacks of delicious treats; I ate what they ate! :P
Here's what we had.

Touloumbes: Delicate honey cake flavoured with cinnamon and soaked in a syrup made with orange flower water
At Easter, lamb is the preferred meat in the Christian lands of the Mediterranean. There is a practical reason for the choice; the festival falls at a time when, on the southern shores of the Mediterranean, the first spring lambs are ready for the spit. Conversely in the cold lands of northern Europe, pork is the traditional Easter meat.(Sacred food; Elisabeth Luard)
On Greek Easter Sunday, the meat is traditionally packed with oregano, lemon, plenty of potatoes and garlic and slipped into the oven after the baking of Easter bread.
Here's a simple and delicious lamb marinade;
3 tsp coarse sea salt
Juice from 1 fresh lemon
3 sprigs fresh oregano roughly chopped
4 cloves crushed garlic; dice into thick chunks
*tip: Sprinkle salt and oregano on coliban potato chunks. Cook in the oven together with the lamb to allow natural meat juices to absorb. Remember to drizzle generously with olive oil to create good crisp edges on the potatoes.
I even had a go at red egg-dye from Spanish onion skins. *sigh* White eggs are almost impossible to find around my area. The brown eggs I used turned my red eggs purple-ish *sniff*


thanh7580 said...

What a coincidence. I was also intrigued by the Greek Easter this year. I even wanted to attend the church ceremony with my friend. In the end, it was not convenient so I didn't go. And Melbourne does have the largest Greek population outside of Greece.

He also told me about the Julian and Gregorian (current) calender and how the Easter separated years ago between the Orthodox Catholic and the Roman Catholic. Someone correct me if I'm wrong, I know nothing of religion. Anyway, one runs on the old Julian calender for Easter and one uses the Gregorian, which is more correct since it takes into account the extra 1/4 day each year. But occasionally, like this year, Easter falls on the same day for both.

He also told me about all the food they eat and how they have to fast beforehand. It all sounded very interesting. Next year I must try and go to the church with him.

Oil Central said...

Wah... so much good food in one post... everytime I read one of your posts I feel hungry. (even though I just had lunch as I'm typing this). :)

Su-Yin -D├ęcorateur said...

thanh: thanks for the info...i really enjoyed my experience with greek food.

waiking: hee...we should go out some time