La Pasqua [Easter] is celebrated throughout Italy and, like most holidays, is associated with specific foods. In this post, we’ll look at four of the most popular sweets linked to la Pasqua in Italy. You’ll see pasticcerie [cake shops] start making and displaying these treats several weeks before the springtime holiday.
La colomba pasquale [Easter dove]: a plus- or cross-shaped cake that roughly mimics the shape of a bird, with a taste and texture similar to il pannettone. Aside from the approximate bird shape of la colomba pasquale, it’s distinguished from pannettone by its puffed sugar sprinkles decoration and a different fruit accent (usually candied orange).
L’agnello di pasta di mandorle [almond paste lamb]: the very sweet pasta di mandorle [almond paste] differs from il marzapane [marzipan] due to the fact that the former does not contain egg whites, while marzapane often does. Believed to be a tradition with Pugliese roots, l’agnello di pasta di mandorle is today made and enjoyed throughout Italy.
Le uova di cioccolato [chocolate eggs]: a symbol of birth, l’uovo [the egg] easily lends itself to the iconography for Easter and other springtime festivals throughout Eurasia. According to popular history in Italy, consuming le uova [eggs] was forbidden during Lent, and as chickens could not be stopped from laying them, le uova were hardboiled for storage and/or easier disposal during the pre-Easter period, then later painted with religious iconography. The transition from decorative to chocolate eggs, however, is not well documented.
*L’uovo and le uova are the singular and plural forms, respectively, for egg/eggs. Most Italian nouns follow different rules in converting from singular to plural: read all about it in Italian Through Food.
La pastiera: the more mythical roots of la pasteira are explained in this post. Given that the main ingredients of la pastiera – le uova [eggs], il latte [milk], il grano [wheat], il burro [butter], la ricotta – are most abundant during springtime, a temporal link between pastiera and Pasqua can easily be made.
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