In Spain, Easter is traditionally a time of feasting and celebration, Most people know about the festivities, the street parties and the processions which marks the Holy week, but another very important element is the special Easter food.
Regional treats of Easter
There are many special treats unique to the Spain Easter period. Some are regional delicacies, found only in one province or one town during the Holy Week. Others are available throughout the year due to demand, but were first created for the Easter celebrations. Some dishes have special customs or traditions associated with them. Many of the treats are made especially for children, while others are for all to share. After the long, arduous fast and strict observations of Lent, it’s hardly surprising that the so much thought has gone into creating these dishes and celebrating the end of the fasting period!
One traditional treat in Catalunya is given on Easter Sunday, when a godfather presents his godchild with a cake known as ‘La Mona’. These delicious chocolate delicacies can be of any shape, from the traditional round pan shape, to Disney characters, toys and pretty much anything else the baker thinks will appeal to a child. In the few weeks before Easter, the windows of many bakeries and confectionaries are filled with such tasty treats, vying for the attentions of every desperate godfather or longing godchild who walks by the store! The cake is traditionally decorated with eggs, either chocolate or hard boiled.
Another dish synonymous with Easter is the torrijas. One of the few Easter dishes eaten throughout the country, this lovely concoction consists of slices of warm bread soaked in milk, sugar and egg, then fried in olive oil. Then, they can be dipped in wine, syrup, honey, sugar or cinnamon for extra touch of richness. A simple, humble dish that tastes far better than its description.
In Catalonia and the Valencia coast, the children (and occasionally an adult!) are served Monas de Pascua on Easter Monday. Rather like the La Mona treat of Catalunya, this is a delicious chocolate sweet — but in this case, it has the added delight of a surprise inside!
For a more substantial Easter treat, you might want to be in the Castile-Leon area, where Easter signals the arrival of the hornazo. This large pie is usually filled with pork loin, ham, beef, egg. There is also a sweet version made with almonds, sugar and aniseed.
Bartolillos madrilenos are, as the name implies, a Madrid specialty. These custard filled fried pastries are often a great consolation to visitors who areperplexed on seeing how empty the city is — most of the locals use the Easter holidays to escape to the mountains and the more exuberant south, leaving the city to the few who stay behind, and of course, the tourists. This dish is a popular desert item in the restaurants and pastry shops, together with pestinos (pastries with sesame and honey) and bunuelos (yet more fried pastries), and though they may not be good for the waistline, they are definitely good for improving your outlook on life!
Of course, in all this discussion about the glorious food, let’s not forget that Easter is a time of religious celebration too. Fortunately, there is an example that strikes exactly the right balance between decadent feasting and pious observance. In the town of Murcia, one of the floats depicting the story of the Last Supper features a table set with real food. On Easter Sunday, after the float has been carried in the procession around the town, the bearers sit down and eat the food!