What Has Been Your Most Memorable Easter Meal?
What I love most about festivities such as Easter is that they are always a time to enjoy food with special people. Friends and family gather around a table – or a barbecue and swimming pool – and share a meal. I have particularly fond memories of one memorable Easter meal, many years ago.
My Most Memorable Easter Meal
It was in Malaysia and I was in my mid-twenties. A workmate Anita invited me to her house for Easter dinner, and she had a live-in Chinese housekeeper, who was a fabulous cook! She cooked for the twelve of us, the most scrumptious roast dinner I’d ever had, complete with a starter of borscht. We indulged in the most heavenly roast beef, accompanied by cauliflower gratin, minted vegetable salad, garlic butter on home-baked bread. Followed by a couple of desserts that were absolutely divine (though with the passing of time, I can’t remember what they were). That roast beef was sublime! I was so full, I almost fainted at the table when the coffee and liqueurs were brought out.
For more than 20 years, this lovely Chinese cook/housekeeper had worked as a nanny for an expat European family with three kids and a menagerie of pets. She was taught to cook a huge variety of dishes by the lady of the house who was of German/French ancestry. When I think back to my conversations with Anita; it seemed the housekeeper could easily have been the MasterChef of her day. In addition to Chinese, Thai and Indonesian cuisine, she also cooked a plethora of Malaysian dishes across the Nyonya, Eurasian, Indian and Malay styles. Anita was spoilt rotten by the housekeeper, who was constantly frustrated that she only had to cook and keep house for a single person.
Happily, a select few of Anita’s friends benefited, as we were always invited for absolutely wonderful meals at the weekend. Unfortunately for us, Anita met and married the love of her life and ended up moving to the US. Her cook retired and went to live with her sister. Even to this day, I still think of that cook and wonder about her. What a skill she had, and she utterly adored cooking for people, especially with such an appreciative audience!
Traditional Easter foods around the world
It would be easy to start with chocolate and hot cross buns, wouldn’t it? Either could be the number one food that a lot of people eat at Easter. In many parts of the world, countries have their own traditional Easter foods that bring special significance to the table.
- Italy – The pretty ‘Easter Dove’, or Colomba di Pasqua is like the sweet, festive panettone enjoyed at Christmas time but baked in a dove-shaped tin. Topped with almonds and pearl sugar, and traditionally made on Good Friday and Holy Saturday. Now it’s made commercially and is available for weeks, in the lead-up to Easter.
- Greece – Tsoureki, a traditional sweet Greek bread is used to break the Lenten fast. Its flavour comes from orange zest, mastic and mahlab. The dough is braided and a hard-boiled egg, dyed red, is inserted at one end, signifying the blood of Jesus Christ.
- France – The French love their lamb at Easter. They traditionally eat Le Gigot d’Agneau – roast leg of lamb seasoned with garlic, salt, pepper and rosemary.
- Poland – Babka Wielkanocna is a delicious cake, like the Italian panettone. It’s laced with rum syrup and dusted with icing sugar.
- Russia – Paskha is a sweet dish that’s similar to a cheesecake but without a crust. Made in a pyramid shape using special moulds, from foods that are forbidden during the fasting period of Lent. The Paskha is spread on slices of sweet Easter bread called kulich. (Have a go at my Cherry Chocolate Baked Mascarpone Cheesecake!)
- Germany – Osterschinken im Brotteig is Easter ham baked in bread dough, then sliced and served with mustard. The Germans also love their vibrant green chervil soup called Gründonnerstagsuppe or Green Thursday Soup. Maundy Thursday is the Christian holy day that falls on the Thursday before Easter.
- Lebanon – Lebanese Christians adore their Ma’amoul. Lovely parcels of minced pistachios, walnuts or dates enclosed in a rich, buttery shortbread-type pastry made with semolina.
- The Netherlands – The Dutch love Advocaat at Easter. It’s similar to egg nog, made from egg yolks, sugar and vanilla, and infused with brandy.
- US and Canada – A baked ham always goes down well for Easter in North America.
Easter lunch or dinner in Australia
With our multicultural population in Australia, anything goes! I would love to see and smell all the wonderful dishes on the tables come Easter Sunday.
With the cooler weather, a roast is always a lovely idea and lamb is popular at Easter time. In the northern hemisphere, spring lamb is plentiful and sweet at Easter. Given our Easter is in autumn, some will choose a juicy roast pork shoulder or pork belly, which absolutely must have gorgeous, crispy crackling.
This year, I’m thinking I’d like to showcase some of our wonderful produce. I might do some devilled eggs for a starter while the star of the show could be succulent Roasted Boneless Leg of Lamb with Mint Chimichurri Sauce, with some puy lentils to accompany it. I’m also liking the idea of tucking into lovely beetroot-cured salmon. It might depend on the weather closer to the day – lamb for cooler, salmon for warmer.
Easter recipe ideas
Needing recipe inspiration this Easter? Checkout these ideas from our collection.
- Duck Rendang Roast – You will score massive points with guests and it’s easy, I promise!
- Slow Cooker Lamb Korma with Lentils – a gorgeous recipe with ‘a no show’ photo as we tucked in before realising we hadn’t shot it!
- Salmon Salad – Flavoured with my Coriander Curry Paste.
- Grilled Prawns with Pineapple Chimichurri – If you’re having a barbie, then this will be a huge hit.
- Homestyle Oysters & Spinach in Coconut Broth – This is a lush, fresh soup that you can vary with whatever other ingredients you like.
- Veggie Haloumi Salad with Caramelised Balsamic Vinegar – An excellent side dish or something for your vegetarian guests.
Whatever you put on the table at Easter time, prepare and serve it with love.