Friday, 29 March 2013

Bread, Parades and Cooking Holidays; Easter has arrived in Italy.

With a new pope, Francis, then this Easter will have double significance and Pasqua should be an even more intense celebration in Italy than is usual.

Holy Week is probably the most important celebration in the Catholic Church calendar and Pasqua, as it is known, is a time of ritual, solemnity and prayers. Processions that have their roots in soil that has seen numerous generations tread upon it continue to this day. 

If you are lucky enough to take cooking courses in Italy with Flavours at this time you will learn much about the statues that are lovingly carried through the streets, the traditional costumes bedecked by palm frond and olive branches and of course the traditional foods which set the tables at this very special time of the year.

One cannot help but be swept along by the devotion and sense of importance these Holy week processions hold. No matter where you might be in the country there is a special regional parade which is revered and upheld.

On Good Friday if you were in Sicily, for example, you could watch a solemn procession of around 2 000 friars who are clothed in ancient garb or perhaps see the Misteri di Trapani which lasts for a full 24 hours. Religion is entwined with just about every aspect of everyday life and almost everything remains the same from one year to the other.

On the other hand, those on a cooking course in Italy will be rolling up their sleeves and preparing for the gastronomic celebration that is Easter in Italy.   With Lent finally over, Christ has risen and then so has the different types of bread baked all over the country which echoes this fact. You will find Pannetonne and Colomba which is fashioned to look like a dove, symbolising peace.

You can find all different types of sweet bread, braided nest like affairs with dyed eggs set in the centre called a Pinza. Easter food is all about re birth, spring and the joyous return of warner weather and longer days.

So scald your broad beans and remove their little jackets, find Asparagus and eat with foaming Hollandaise. Think about a risotto with spring vegetables or eating roast lamb stuffed with anchovies and rosemary and cooked in a bottle of wine.

Alongside the serious business of cooking and eating come the crazy rituals like the cheese rolling of Pabicale in Umbria where you have to get round the course with your cheese but using the fewest number of pushes. 

If you fancy rolling some pasta or learning how to cook authentic Italian regional specialities and also spending some time foraging in local markets and alongside well respected food artisans, then why not book a Flavours cooking course in Italy. Maybe you could still make it for Easter, maybe Whitsun or maybe even wait, if you dare, until the Summer. Click here to see details of our cooking courses.


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