Monday, April 23, 2012

Bloggers' Bites: Best Easter and Passover Food/Food Experiences

Bloggers' Bites is a series of posts chronicling the foodie adventures of Penn Appetit's blog staff.

The question: What is your favorite Easter or Passover food/food experience?

Nicole Woon: I dream about the succulent Easter ham that my mom makes each year. A quick history lesson about the classic dinner table centerpiece: according to food historian Barbara Ketcham Wheaton, "meat was not eaten during the Lenten season and so was scarce in early spring. However, farmers and peasants, having fattened their pigs on the last of the harvested corn before slaughtering them, usually had a cured ham available, hanging in the barn from the past winter. Lamb was available to some extent, but because ham couldn't be eaten by Muslims or Jews it took on a peculiarly Christian significance."

My mom prepares it traditionally, studding the pork's pink surface with juicy pineapple rings and plenty of cloves. The meat basks in the warm heat of the oven for two hours, with a generous glaze of pure honey applied each time the clock's minute hand has made a full circle. As it bakes, the aroma permeates the kitchen, filling the house with a savory-sweet fragrance. When it comes out of the oven, only the risk of burning my tongue prevents me from devouring slices. I tease my palate by sampling roasted pineapple and crunchy, unctuous pork rind. And the ham-- oh, the ham! Substantially hearty with the right touch of sweetness. Layered on flaky Pillsbury biscuits with Havarti cheese; diced into large chunks with grated cheddar cheese, sliced button mushrooms, and sweet onions for an omelette; or simply eaten by itself, this ham will satiate and satisfy anyone.

Elliott Brooks: I spent my junior year of high school studying abroad in Belgium. During Easter break I was invited by a German friend of a friend to stay with her. Of course I jumped at the chance, which is how I found myself at her Jewish grandmother's house in breathtaking Bavaria on Easter Sunday. Obviously ham was out of the question, but her grandmother still prepared us a semi-traditional Easter breakfast of fresh brezels (pretzels) from the local bakery and hard boiled eggs. We peeled the eggs, cut them in half and spooned small amounts of homemade herb-infused olive oil on top. A simple breakfast, and yet absolutely divine. It was certainly an Easter to remember!

Richie Stark: My most memorable passover food is and always will be matzoh brie. I remember having different iterations of this food on multiple passover occasions and it is the edible treat I associate most closely with Pesach. At my Savta's house I had a satisfyingly crunch, salty, almost-but-not-quite burned matzoh brie with pink applesauce on the side. At my Nana's, I have had a more moist yet still slightly crispy matzoh brie. I have always enjoyed it - it is, after all, a vehicle to give the normally bland matzoh a strong egg and a weak salt profile - and I will make it for my family for years to come at this time of the year.

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