Monday, April 16, 2007

The Easter Feast

April 16, 2007

When I was hosting "All About Food" in the old days, I often found that my cooking was subtly influenced by the program. I began adapting my heretofore highly orthodox, and some would say downright dogmatic Italian cooking style, experimenting with new ingredients, new spices, even new ways of thinking about food, usually with happy results.

On Good Friday we did a program in celebration of the Easter Feast based on the unusual congruence of Passover and Easter all ocurring in the same week this year, and Greek Orthodox Easter coninciding on the same day with the Roman Catholic observance, something that happens only in a blue moon, a blue Passover moon, that is. One of the things I learned in doing that show was that Passover and Pasqua derive from the same root. Well, duh.

My Greek friend Voula (and she is my dear friend and Mediterranean sould-mate sister), had ended up crying on the phone to each other on Friday morning, both of us yearning for the communal observances that used to characterize Holy Week when Voula was growing up in Thessaloniky, and I was growing up in New York. Doing the program together was a way of - forgive me - getting our Easter rocks off.

But it was also a truly Here -on-Earth inspiration for me. Yes, I made my traditional Italian Easter dinner - a gorgeous platter of antipasto to start with followed by my grandmother's homemade manicotti and roast leg of lamb with green beans and mushrooms. But this year something was different. We had a lit minora on the table, Jews, Catholics, atheists, and Greeks sitting down together, Voula's bowl of dyed red eggs, and her wonderful ricotta and philo pastry made with vanlla from Madagascar for dessert. "Christos Aneste!" "Happy Pesach" "Happy Easter."

None of that would have happened had it not been for my program.


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