A few days after Palm Sunday now we’re getting ready to celebrate Easter in Hungary. The weather has suddenly become warm and now that we’re enjoying longer daylight the holiday finally seems real. The photo I chose of a Hungarian Easter table may not be fully authentic but it is picturesque, the ham is real and the red wine is inviting. The simplicity of the table reminds me of ancient pastoral times and my home. I have the same white-blue jug for tea in my kitchen and the same piece of ham is waiting in the fridge to cut on Easter Sunday.
Egg, ham and Easter
Easter is the greatest holiday of the Christian Church. The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the son of God, makes the celebration greater and more significant than his birth.
Easter in its roots is a spring holiday and in most European languages the word for Easter relates to either spring renewal or the Christian resurrection. The Hungarian word “húsvét” for Easter means we may start eating meat again after a 40-day fasting period. Now few of us may be fasting for 40 days these days but on holy Friday we definitely keep the rule and do not eat meat.
The first hours when the rigid restriction is lifted is Saturday evening: we’re putting eggs and ham on the table. The symbolism of the Easter table is beautiful: an egg is like a seed or a seed germ. It symbolizes birth, the start of life, it is in Christian tradition the resurrecting Christ himself. But the Christian Easter table has very pragmatic reasons also. The longer daylight, the warm weather and green fields ensure plenty eggs on the farms and the hams are ready to be cut after they’ve been matured, cured and smoked.
Easter is traditionally a family and friends time in Hungary and now that we go for a second year without it the whole holiday becomes somehow mythical. Egg decoration, sprinkling, family visits and reunion with friends, eating together, the first outings in nature adore the Easter holiday in Hungary. For a little nostalgy and more, see my earlier posts on egg decoration and deviled eggs or paprika spread recipes before. This time I picked another spring ingredient: green bell peppers.
Chili, ham and red wine
This recipe almost takes longer to prepare than cook. Make a cooked sauce from fresh tomato or tomato paste, celery leaves and spices: salt, sugar, black pepper, basil and chili. Make a rice and ham filling for the green peppers: mix parboiled rice, small ham cuts, onion, garlic, parsley leaves, salt, a pinch of hot red paprika powder and egg together. Remove the top of the green peppers, remove the seeds and fill them with the rice mixture. Cook the peppers in the tomato sauce while adding some red wine. You may add a little flour and sour cream to thicken the sauce.
While we’re all getting ready for Easter, I’m also finishing my Paprika Book on Szeged paprika culture. I’m organizing photos, writing the captions for the photos and doing some last-minute editing before the Book will be out, hopefully, in May!
PaprikaMolnar is wishing you happy Easter Holidays.
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