Easter week in the kitchen

Artichokes "alla giudia" are a traditional Italian dish with Judaic origins

It is nice — and unsurprising — to know that in this period of reflection and prayer, Italians have never quite forgotten about their kitchens. And so, we learn that the  first Easter chocolate eggs were created in Turin in the 18th century: and it couldn’t be any different, when  you think this elegant city is one of Italy’s chocolate capitals (Perugia and Modica being the other two). 

Just a handful of kilometers south, in Genoa, quaresimali have been made with water, sugar and almond paste since before the 18th century, throughout Lent and for Easter. As it often happens for traditional sweet concoctions, it was local nuns who invented them. 

In the  South, in Calabria, many make the campanari, traditional Easter cookies with butter, eggs, milk, lemon and vanilla. In their middle, a full egg — shell in place! — is usually baked. Campanari, mind, are a good treat also for Pasquetta, Italy’s true beginning of Spring, when we love sharing picnics and barbecues with family and friends. 

And it isn’t a real Pasquetta without a torta di Pasqua,  a savory pie filled with a variety of vegetables, eggs and cheese. The original one, Liguria’s torta Pasqualina, has fresh  cheese similar to ricotta, chards, nutmeg, parmesan and eggs, held into a delicate pastry shell. 

Early Spring, when usually Easter falls, is also an important spiritual moment for followers of Judaism, as Passover is celebrated. Italy has  been home to the  most ancient Jewish community in Europe for something like 2000 years: no wonder, then, that Italian Jews have developed their own dishes for this important celebration. Just look up carciofi alla giudia (deliciously deep fried artichokes) or spinaci con pinoli e passerine (spinach with pine nuts and raisins) to see what we mean. 

But the queen of the Italian Easter table its her, Her Majesty the cassata. It may be  more typical in Sicily than everywhere else, but its sweet soul made of almonds, ricotta and candied fruit, and its beautiful jewel-like colors, are just like you would expect something Italian to be: beautiful, delicate, tempting and delicious. 


And, for goodness’ sake, forget diets this Sunday: celebrate Easter, celebrate Spring, celebrate your family, celebrate the magnificent food of Italy.


Wear your comfy pants, and Happy Easter to you all!

Receive More Stories Like This In Your Inbox



The magic atmosphere of Sovana © Ermess | Dreamstime.com

When Tuscany was called Etruria: Sovana and the Vie Cave trails

T he Etruscans are one of the most fascinating pre-Roman civilizations but, puzzlingly, also one of those we know the least about: the real Etruscan...

A day in the life of … A Renaissance chef

Being a chef in the Renaissance wasn’t as you would imagine: restaurants as we know them today didn’t exist and the only people who could afford to...

New Orleans apologizes to lynched Italians

O n the 14th of March 1891, 11 people were accused of the murder of the chief of police. They were acquitted, but it ended up in a pogrom: the...

L’uovo di Pasqua – More than Just an Egg

Just about the time when the long cold days of winter come to an end, and heavy wool coats are hung up and being put away, one can start seeing...

Celebrating an unusual Italian Easter

Chocolate eggs are stacked high in supermercati, Colomba dove cakes decorate pasticcerie windows and lambs are being made ready for the dining table...

Weekly in Italian

Recent Issues