Italian baking, especially at Easter, is full of symbolism. (It is also filled with calories and sugar and fat, but for purposes of this post, we will focus on the symbolism!)
My favorite pie, and the first one I learned to make, is called the Easter wheat pie. It is also known as a "grain pie", and in my home, was called "la pastiera di grana".
Next we have the meat pie, also known as pizza chiena (full pie) or pizza rustica (rustic pie).
The symbolism here is that during the 40 days of Lent, you were supposed to abstain from rich, fatty foods. So when Lent is over, you can make up for those lean 40 days with one slice of the pie. The best way I can describe it is - like a quiche on steroids. Real men eat this pie, let me tell you. It is diced ham, salami, provolone, mozzarella, dried sausage blended in a ricotta base with lots of eggs. Not what the doctor ordered. But once a year, a sliver should't hurt.
After church on Easter Sunday, I would look forward to a breakfast consisting of an eggy, fragrant braided bread called casatelli.
I was always in charge of the colored Easter eggs. The eggs are boiled and dyed, then nestled in the braided dough and baked. The eggs are not edible when the finished product is out of the oven. But with a cup of coffee or glass of oj, it always hit the spot for me while I was going through my Easter basket.
Now, we couldn't just slice into our Easter baked goods. We wrapped them and carried them to our church to be blessed. We didn't take all of them, because in the good old days my mother and aunt would make pies by the dozen as gifts for family, friends, the doctor, even the postman. But one of each brought to church would do.
I am afraid that this type of baking is becoming lost as the younger generation doesn't really "eat this way". Good for them. But I know when I just smell these pies in the oven, I am 8 years old and back to my roots. And I have hope for the rest of the year.
Click here to see recipes.
I am linking to Seasonal Sundays at the Tablescaper