Thursday, May 01, 2008

Greek Easter Part 2 and Kalo Mina

First of May! Whoop, whoop! We're in Bollybutton's birthday month! Incidentally, you may wish to know that Home Countryish for month is mahina. Mina, mahina, same thing.

Here's Part 2 of my Greek Easter 2008. I'm starting to love Greek Easter. The days before hand have such an air of anticipation. It almost feels like festivals Back Home. The whole country is gearing up, preparing, soul reflecting and cooking in anticipation for the big day.

In Greece, red eggs are an integral part of Easter. At midnight on Easter, you play a game with them whereby everyone takes an egg and takes turns knocking egg to egg, small end to small end or big end to big end until there is one unbroken egg standing and that's the winner. The prize is... nothing. Maybe a nice egg salad later.

Mr Zeus's mum brought me a packet of red powder dye and gave me instructions on how to make the eggs. Your eggs need to be at room temperature so the heat shock of boiling them doesn't make them crack open. Then you fill a pot with enough water to cover the eggs, lay a kitchen towel in the bottom of the pan and lay the eggs on top of this. The towel stops the eggs from knocking against each other and breaking. You now bring the pan to a very gentle boil on a low heat setting. When you're satisfied that the water is boiling, leave them for about 10 minutes.

Remove the eggs and cool until you can handle them. Check for cracked eggs and remove these because the dye is meant for the outside of the egg and it's probably not good for you to eat it. In one small half glass of red vinegar, dissolve one packet of dye and stir well. Fill a pan with enough hot water to cover all your eggs. The water should be hot but not uncomfortably hot or boiling. Pour the vinegar and dye into the pan with the water and stir, stir, stir!

Next, you lower the eggs into the pan so that they're covered with the red liquid. DON'T drop them in because you'll crack them. Now here is why it's important that you have enough water to cover the eggs completely, they need to soak undisturbed. I didn't, and proceeded to poke and prod my eggs continuously to make sure they were getting enough dye and ended up leaving my red eggs scratched and scarred from the spoon. Leave your eggs to dye for 3 minutes, then remove and leave to dry on kitchen paper.

Finally, take a napkin, dab it with olive oil and polish up the eggs so they look shiny and nice. You can buy egg dye that comes with polishing liquid but I didn't use this because it's some kind of skin irritant and flammable... not sure I wanted to rub it all over a food item. Olive oil was advised by FMIL and I was happy to stick to that.

My first Easter red eggs are not a bad effort despite a few scratches. But next year they'll be PERFECTION, wait and see.

Another first as I mentioned was my first May Catcher. After gorging yourself on Easter Sunday, it's customary to take a walk picking the wildflowers that blanket Greece at this time of year and weaving them into a wreath to hang on your door. The wreath is supposed to 'catch' May and bring it to your house. I've never seen anyone do this, but I'd heard of it and wanted to carry out this tradition.

My wreath is an artistic construction of two shades of purple wildflower as the base accented with little yellow and pink flowers and seven stunning red poppies. It's not just etsi kai etsi, it's fabulous and it's my first ever so I'm pretty proud of it!

Other things I did on Easter was the usual routine of getting to 11.45 pm and running around in a mad panic arming everyone with candles to go to Church, badly dressed as always. We were late and just missed them setting an effigy of Judas on fire. But at least we got our candles lit. Then everyone did a u-turn, piled back in the car and went home to eat. Mr Zeus made a cross on the doorway with candle soot, we played the egg cracking game and I turned the eggs into a salad while the magaritsa was dished up.

Magaritsa is a soup of liver, kidneys, lungs etc. with spring onions and lemon and egg, naturally! It tends to be hit and miss from year to year. Last year it was delicious, this year it was nothing to write home about. I don't like food finished with egg and lemon because I find it overpowers everything else and all I can taste is lemon. My future in laws love lemon and lots of it. They put kilos of the stuff on all their food but on small scale cooking for me they leave a bit with no lemon. Can't be picky at Easter though! Imagine magaritsa with fried onions and garlic, cumin, fresh coriander and chilli powder, left to simmer gently all day... mmmmmm.

After eating you go to bed to prepare for the following day of lamb turning, lamb turning, cooking, matriarchs-in-the-kitchen dodging and eating and eating and talking and talking. It's exhausting, it's stress full, it's greasy and smokey and it's also crazy fun. Greek Easter - the birthplace of competitive eating.

1 comment:

smaro said...

Kalo Pasha bollybutton. I love reading your blog. Greek Easter is my favourite time of the year, though never being in Greece for it, I have never seen the pandemonium that ensues. I just remember red egg games, koulourakia biscuits, kids running around and barbeques of lamb of course. Its also my name day so its pretty special. Next year I plan to be in Greece for the madness!

I can also totally relate on the whole parents front. This Easter my German's parents met my parents for the first time...nerve-racking stuff, I baked so much beforehand to assuage it.