Food and faith are perhaps never more linked than they are this week, Holy Week for Christians and Passover for Jews. For observant Jews Passover involves a thorough cleaning of the house from everything that has come in contact with chametz, or leavened products. Even utensils that have touched chametz are sold or given away for the duration of the holiday.
Holy Week, for Christians, marks the the last week of Lent, a time of fasting and subdued restraint. The most observant Orthodox Christians go completely vegan and often abstain from sugar as well. Even more casual practitioners of the faith often fast periodically or give up some kind of food during Lent.
While this may seem strange or abnormally ascetic to outside observers, practitioners of both faiths say there is a kind of joy in following these rhythms that extend even to the food that they eat. The spiritual beliefs are instantiated tangibly as they affect even the food on the table. And the feast that comes for Orthodox Christians on Easter Sunday, chock-full of cheeses, meats and sweet eggy breads, is all the more joyful and special for coming at the end of a long season of restraint, making the promise of Easter feel even more present.
Even those of us who do not practice one of these faiths rigorously often have family traditions that involve food. Are you celebrating Passover or Easter this week, and do you have any special foods that you're making?
We have a couple treasured family recipes coming up later this week...