Spring has sprung! FINALLY! Just ask the birds and blooming trees in my yard. They know.
Spring is a time of rebirth and renewal. Spring is a time to get outside and wish away the cold and chill of winter. It is a time of wonder and of joy! Spring is the time when life says " LOOK at ME!"
Spring is also Easter time!
I am half Greek. (My best half if you ask me...) I was raised celebrating my "Greekness" through traditions, music, dancing and food - mostly food.
One traditional Greek food in our home is Tsoureki. Each year at Easter time, I make Tsoureki Bread with its unique flavor addition of Mahlepi. Mahlepi is the kernel inside a cherry pit. It imparts a distinctive fruity taste to the bread. It is my favorite bread to make. DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT make Tsoureki without Mahelpi. There are many recipes available on the internet and in books that add all sorts of strange ingredients like fennel seed but ignore those and keep searching until you find the "real deal." Tsoureki is butter and egg-rich, light as air and addictive. It is simple to make and very rewarding.
Anyway, this year, as usual, I will make Greek Easter bread with our daughters, Alyssa and Mia. From the time they were tiny, I gave them their own Tsoureki dough to shape and mold into a braided loaf or whatever shape their little hands could manage. As the bread rose, our family would die Easter Eggs. As the Tsoureki baked, our family would clean up from the egg dying as our home became filled with the scent of baking bread. Easter morning brought baskets and bread... Don't you just love traditions?
Another Greek tradition is that of breaking eggs on Easter. The game of cracking or breaking eggs is called tsougrisma and it symbolizes the breaking open of the tomb and Jesus Christ's Resurrection. Two "players" hold their eggs and then one tries to "crack" the other's egg. (Be aware of cheaters! My grandfather, John, was a notorious cheater! A family tradition my husband, Russell, has taken over!) The "winner" takes their egg and goes on to the next person and so on. As you crack eggs, one person says,
"Christ has risen."
The other person says,
"Christ has risen indeed."
The "winner" is the one whose egg has cracked all the other eggs. THEN, we eat the eggs on our salad. My grandpa always threatened to keep his egg for the following year. He would hold his egg to within an in of its life with only the tip top showing. He was SO shameless! I still laugh when I think about it...
This Spring, share some traditions with your family or better yet, create some of you own! Maybe that means adopting a tradition from your heritage; as I did with Tsoureki. Maybe that means searching out and learning the names of what is blooming or singing in your yard. Whatever it is, create something to share.
Avid home cook and passionate instructor