by Ian Makay
Hard boiled and simply dipped in pastel dyes, most Easter eggs were meant and are meant to be eaten. For a time in both the Eastern and Western rite Christian churches, eggs were among the foods forbidden during the 40-day lenten fast beginning with Ash Wednesday and extending through Easter. As a result, both Fat or Shrove Tuesday (the day preceding Ash Wednesday, marked in many places with Mardi Gras celebrations) and Easter Sunday became days to relish the taste of eggs.
Eschewed along with meat and eggs during Lent were cream, milk, and butter. Fat Tuesday provided the obligation to rid the house of all these tempting ingredients and thereby also provided a plausible excuse to devour copious amounts of whatever native variation on pancake existed. Presence of the pancake became so prevalent on Fat Tuesday that the English even went to far as to dub it Pancake Day, while the Scots (giving ode to their own national adaptation on the cakes) named it Bannock Day.
Although lamb or turkey roasts may be the culinary apex of your Pascal celebration, for many cultures throughout Europe, Northern Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia, Easter breakfast is the meal that makes the day. Eggs in every conceivable manifestation appear at the table following religious services, along with a panoply of breakfast meats, breads, and confections. Other such meals are simple and somber reflections on the season, consisting of little more than hard-boiled eggs and special Easter breads blessed by the priest during religious ceremonies.
Also visit the main Easter page. Includes Spring, Easter and Passover recipes, tips, lore and more.
This page originally published as part of the electronic Gourmet Guide between 1994 and 1998. Modified March 2007.
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