As I read Marian’s blog on Monday, I got to thinking about the upcoming Easter festivities that will take place here this coming Sunday. We do the eggs, too, but rather than eat them and enjoy them with the meal, we’ll color them, hide them, stick them in the refrigerator after they’re found, and eventually, make egg salad in a week or so when it becomes apparent that nobody who unearthed an egg would ever eat it unless I doctored it up with mayonnaise, salt and pepper.
And while I’m sure there are some wonderful culinary traditions for Easter that exist in many families, we don’t have one that I recall. Which is why I’ll be crashing Marian’s Passover dinner. (Just kidding. You can’t write about food like that and not expect me to covet an invitation.) Our family thought we had the tradition of roasted spring lamb but apparently it was a culinary tradition that left some family members cold. Sure, Mom would roast a leg of lamb when we were children, but it has come to light that many of the family members do not like leg of lamb with the exception of me and Mom, and most would prefer something else. This became apparent ten years ago on Easter Sunday when I gave birth to Patrick, child number two. Although I expected to be with the family around the table for the celebration, I was in labor. Mom had bought the biggest leg of lamb she could find—just for me (!) as I’m constantly reminded—and then I didn’t attend, having a baby taking precedent over my dining on lamb with mint jelly. (Which, I assure you, was so much better than the post-labor ziti and ginger ale I was served by a very surly orderly who wondered why I was so hungry at seven in the morning.) So, I find myself with the task of having to make up for the Easter where “we had to eat lamb and you weren’t even there.” Remember, we’re Irish Catholics. We hold grudges.
This year, Dad wants filet mignon. Mom wants lamb. Husband will eat whatever I serve. We have an assortment of children between the ages of two and fifteen who have their own mealtime idiosyncrasies with at least one vegetarian and one chocoholic in the mix and another who joneses for Diet Coke like it’s nobody’s business and would eschew food in favor of carbonated beverages. Henceforth, I’ve decided to go with what we affectionately call the “combination plate” here at Chez Barbieri: filet mignon, lamb chops, mashed potatoes, a variety of vegetables, a meatless ziti, and a lasagna. Oh, and bread! Because if there is nothing that pleases this crowd more, it’s bread, more bread, and lots of butter.
See, here’s the thing: we’ve all supposed to have been doing some sort of fasting and abstinence for the last forty days of Lent, the holy season that precedes Easter. Sunday’s upcoming Bacchanalian festival of eating, otherwise known as a very holy day in the Christian faith, is intended to make up for how hungry you ostensibly are or should be. This tradition dates back to ancient times and is supposed to usher in our season of planting and harvest (did I get that right?). But let’s face it—how many of us are ever truly hungry? We may get a hunger pang that indicates “oh, it’s lunch time” but for many of us, true hunger is not something we experience on a regular basis. That’s something I’ll think about as I serve more food than my ten guests could ever eat and give thanks for the bounty that our country affords us.
As far as I’m concerned, everyone should just be happy with the spread, and I promise you, they will be. If they know what’s good for them.