Easter! Spring is unfurling over us like tumbling blossom, the days lengthening into warm, incandescent evenings as baby bunnies take their first tentative steps from the warren and newly-feathered birds feel the breeze through their wings before their virgin flight. The world is awakening afresh! So humanity celebrates by stuffing ourselves so full of chocolate that our bellies spill from last year’s T-shirts like bulbous udders and we struggle to move even to close the curtains to shut out the glare on our iPads.
It’s not all chocolate. People are always looking for new ways to fill their faces. If you’re backpacking during Easter, you’re bound to come across unknown seasonal delicacies. Here’s a travel guide so that you won’t be too surprised by the more exotic ways of getting Type 2 Diabetes.
Cheesy Breast, Russia
Pashka is a lumpen pyramid of cheese festooned with more religious iconography than the back bumper of a Texan Humvee. The molded pyramid shape resembles the Tomb of Christ; nuts and fruits are arranged into three-bar crosses; the letters X and B feature prominently to represent the traditional greeting ‘Christ is Risen!’ It’s the most religious dessert you’re ever likely to sully with your heathen mouth.
Egg Cronut, Greece
Tsoureki is a sweet brioche-style bread, cooked in braided strands into a traditional circular shape and, at Easter, decorated with dyed red hard-boiled eggs to symbolise the blood of Christ. Nothing is more appetising than the blood of a two thousand year old deity.
Peanut Corks, Brazil
Paçoca is a well-loved candy all year round in Brazil but, like chocolate, it comes into its own over Easter. It’s made from ground peanuts, cassava flour, sugar, and salt, and dried into solid blocks. It’s often served in cork-shaped lumps, perhaps to help you roll it into your mouth when you’re too engorged to stand.
Suffering Pudding, Mexico
Capirotada is a fairly complex dish; think bread pudding with a soupcon of human suffering. Mulled syrup made with cane sugar, clove, and cinnamon sticks marinates toasted bread. A range of fresh or dried fruits are added, along with a layer of aged cheese. These ingredients are selected to remind the eater of the suffering of Christ: the bread is his body, the syrup his blood, the raisins and cloves the nails of the cross, and the whole cinnamon sticks the cross itself. The cheese? His death shroud! Bon appétit!
Chocolate Endangered Species, Australia
Feral rabbits, introduced by hapless hunters in the 18th century, have proven something of an environmental disaster in Australia. To raise awareness of this fact, the native and endangered bilby has been marketed as an alternative Easter mascot, chocolate bilbies going to head-to-head on shelves with chocolate bunnies. We all know the best way to teach children to protect an endangered species is to have them devour its delicious effigy.
Deformed Dove Cake, Italy
Allegedly, Colomba di Pasqua, a bread similar to panettone, is intended to be shaped like a majestic dove to symbolise the spirit of Christ. Unfortunately whoever popularised this tradition had apparently only seen a pigeon after it had flown head first into a glass patio door.
Egg in the Hole, Spain
Mona de Pascua is kind of an oversized doughnut popular in some regions of Spain during Semana Santa (holy week). The traditional recipe sees a hard-boiled egg, still in its shell, shoved into the heart of the cake. But that’s a bit weird, so many modern variations substitute it for a chocolate egg instead. A fine choice.
White Sticky Knob, Russia, Bulgaria, Serbia
Kulich is kind of like an erotic panettone. It’s baked in a tall tin, adorned with exotic flowers, and drizzled with sticky white icing that dribbles teasingly down the spongy shaft. A priest blesses it (making this a fairly specific kind of fetish), and the bread is eaten as a morning glory breakfast snack every day during Easter.
Go Green, Germany
Germans have a sonorous name for Maundy Thursday: Gründonnerstag (‘Green Thursday’). It compels them to eat green food, including Chervil soup, mashed cauliflower with chives, kryptonite, and a selection of fruits and vegetables (spot the odd one out). The next day is commonly known as Stuhlgang Freitag (‘Bowel Movement Friday’).