Easter has got to be one of my favorite holidays to celebrate with food, right after Christmas and Thanksgiving…and Halloween…and Cinco de Mayo. Ok, I take most holidays and food quite seriously. But Easter does have a special meaning to Latinos at the Sunday table. Lent is over and that means it’s time to feast! From ham to lamb to the Easter bread, everything is fare game. Even though each culture has different traditions, every Easter table throughout Latin America has one thing in common which is about the abundance of food and the somewhat quirky traditions I adore.
In Mexico, for example, cascarones are made by using a pin pour the egg out of the shell, then once cleaned, it’s filled with confetti and a small toy and covered with tissue paper. Fun, right? You haven’t heard the best part. The cascarones are then broken over your loved one’s heads to bring good luck! Head down to San Antonio, Texas for the city-wide festival of Fiesta, and make sure to bring a helmet!
The Mexican food traditions are quite tasty too. A popular recipe for lent is capirotada, a bread pudding that is mulled in whole cane sugar, cloves and cinnamon. More often than not it has dried fruits such as apples, dates, raisins and apricots. Add some nuts and you’re making a phenomenal bread pudding if you ask me. It’s a dish that is vegetarian, hence it’s served on Good Friday, however because of it’s immense popularity (and yeah, delicious flavor) you find it quite often on the Easter dinner table.
OK, let’s go a bit more south into Peru where you’ll find their Easter traditions, known as “Semana Santa” even more interesting. Throughout most of Peru the Easter feast is known as Doce Platos, which translates to twelve dishes. You guessed it, you’re pretty much getting twelve separate courses on that Sunday. Believe it or not, many of the dishes are full sized course, an interesting symbolic gesture to signify the end of Lent. A favorite is chiriuchu, a mishmash of dried corn and mixed meats, including roasted guinea pig, which Peruvians commonly wash down with chicha, a regional beer made from fermented maize.
Finally, in Chile you find Easter traditions that aren’t too different than the ones you find here in the United States. Yes, kids have their Easter egg hunt and Christians go to church. And once they come back home it’s time to enjoy a feast where they usually have an asado, or grilled meats.
No matter where you are in the Latin world, Easter is celebrated with the end of Lent. This is the end of the meal restrictions and the Sunday celebration with an abundance of food, family and love. Oh yeah..and Easter bunny!
By: George Duran