Food Traditions of the Easter holidays

In the northern hemisphere, the Easter holidays, apart from the important religious meaning, mark the arrival of spring and the begining of the warm and fertile season. Therefore, ancient heritage, christian rites and cultural traditions play still a strong role in todays Easter celebrations. The holiday of Easter is connected to several food customs, preparing special food and sharing with family and friends.

Buona pascua! In Italy, in particular in the southern parts, impressive church parades mark the holy week. As Good Friday isn’t a bank holiday, celebrations in the family start Friday evening and go till Easter Monday. On Good Friday’s dinner, fish and light dishes are preferred. In Sicily, colourful candied almonds are a typical easter snack during the processions. At our Food Tour Palermo, your Food Hopping guide is happy to show you some of the places where the Easter parades take place.
Children in Italy love their chocolate eggs on Easter Sunday – usually a big, egg shaped chocolate, brightly wrapped in foil and filled with small toys. The big Easter Sunday lunch is often a veritable family feast, for hours and with multiple food courses. Lamb is a favourite, and as the dessert, there is a typical Easter cake called Colomba – Dove. On Easter Monday, called Pasquetta – little Easter – a must-try is the Torta di Pasquetta, a hearty pastry filled with ricotta, spinach and eggs.

Felices pascuas! Spain has a rich tradition of celebrating the Easter week with colourfull religous parades. Especially in Madrid and in Andalucia, traditional Penitence brotherhoods pursue the century-old traditions. At our Food Tour Malaga, we actually visit a special place related to the Easter celebrations all year long!
On Good Friday, according to the catholic rite, no meat is served – so chickpea stew or dishes made of salt cod are very common food. A famous Easter dish are the torrijas, made of white bread, soaked in milk and sugar, than fried. It is similar to French toast. La Mona de Pascua is a sweet bread-like pastry with an egg put in the middle – in the past it was a plain hard-boiled egg, today the Easter bread is often adorned with chocolate eggs and fondant or marzipan. Also in Spain, family and friends love to gather to watch the processions – live or at the television – and feast afterwards to end the lent period and welcome spring.

“Frohe Ostern!” Church processions are still existing in mainly catholic regions of Germany, and are no part of the protestant rite – but all Germans love to decorate their homes for spring and eat colourfull chocolates in Easter-related forms. It is very common to gift chocolate bunnys, creme-filled eggs or chocolate ladybugs to your family, friends and even working collegues. Hard boiled eggs, coloured by the children, are typical Easter food. Our Food Tour Frankfurt samples a particular dish from the Hesse region, typical to eat on Gründonnerstag – green thursday – as the beginning of the long Easter weekend, with bank holiday on Friday and Monday: Grüne Soße, a deliciously fresh, cold herb-dairy-cream. It is quite common to eat fish and no sweets on Good Friday, then to have on Easter Sunday an extensive lunch, or a combined breakfast/lunch in the family called “brunch“. German children love to search for Easter sweets and hard boiled coloured eggs, hidden for them by the Osterhase – Easter rabbit. Easter cakes are typically either of yeast dough shaped as rabbits or in form of a knot with a hole in the middle to fit a hard boiled egg, or a sweet sponge cake, baked in a special lamb-shaped form.

Our Food Hopping Frankfurt, Malaga or Palermo, as well as our other Food Tours, invite you to learn more about the local food-related traditions on a leisurly walk through the heart of the city – during the festive season, or for your holidays. Hungry for more?

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Italy’s sweet side

Dolce vita, the sweet life, that´s one of the most known italian frases… looking at the dessert culture of Italy, it sounds quite reasonable. Italys long and agitated cultural history brought out a indefinite number of delicious dessert recipes, varying from region to region.
Using prime ingredients like fresh cream, sugar, fruits and/or spirits as well as flaky bakery goods, Italian desserts are elegant and light in taste – it´s almost impossible to resist, even after a good multi-course meal…we asked our Food Hopping guides about their favourite dessert, and here is their shortlist:

Gelato: the all-italian soul food. Already the roman emperors enjoyed glacier ice mixed with fruit sirup, brought by runners from the alps. From the 17th centrury on, recipes of ice-cream with milk or cream exist. The secret of smooth ice-cream lies in continouus whisking while the ice cristalizes.
Napoli is the traditional stronghold of italian artisanal ice-cream. From the most classic tastes like vanilla, chocolata or strawberry to modern inovations like green tea, bacon-honey, or even salty variations – ice-cream is a must in Italy, for instance at our Food Hopping tour in Rome!

Panna Cotta: a typical dessert of northern Italy, made of sweetened cream thickened with gelatine. The cream may be aromatized with coffee, vanilla, or other flavorings. It is often served with a fruit sauce, caramel or chocolate, or covered with fruits or liqueurs.

Tiramisu: this italian dessert has a legendary status. The italian “Tirami sù“ means “pick me up” in english. This might be because of it`s rich ingredients – eggs, sugar, coffee and mascarpone cream cheese – that may lift spirits and are very nutritive.
A legend tells, that a version of this dessert existed already in the Renaissance times, when venetian ladies served them to their lovers as a aphrodisiakum, to help them gain energy for the night.
Several regions in Italy fight over the written proof who had the first Tiramisu on the menu. We stay with the legends and have a delicious Tiramisu at our tour in Venice.

Cannolo: Up for a sweet treat of creamy ricotta in a crispy dough shell? Cannoli, “little tubes”, are the best known sicilan pastries. It is uncertain if the greeks or the arabs brought the original recipe – without any doubt they are worth to taste here, hand-crafted at a traditional sicilan bakery!

Granita: When it´s hot in summer, we all love a refreshing drink, cooled down with ice. The italian answer is the other way around: granita, crushed ice with fruit juice. Small booth open in summer on every spot where thirsty people gather – at town squares, parks, playgrounds and at the beach. Most pintoresque are the Granita bycicles – ambulant vendors with all the ingredients on their bike. They stop where a good granita is needed. for example, right during our Food Tour in Sorrento!

Baba cake: The volcano is omnipresent in Napoli, even in the shape of the traditional „Babà“ cake. A delicious sweet dough, baked and soaked with Rum. We try this original sweet treat during our tour in Naples.

Cassata: a traditional sweet from Sicily, especially Palermo. Cassata consists of round sponge cake moistened with fruit juices or liqueur and layered with ricotta cheese and candied fruits. It is covered with a shell of marzipan, pink and green pastel colored icing, and decorative designs. The cassata is topped with candied fruit depicting cherries and slices of citrus fruit characteristic of Sicily. You won´t miss that delicacy during our Food Hopping in Palermo!

Zabaione: ending our short list with a Z, the Zabaione o Zabaglione is a popular northern italian dessert, made with egg yolks, sugar, and Marsala wine. It is whisked up in bain-marie to an airy foam, and often served with hard biscuits to dip in.

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Spain’s sweet side

The Spaniards love to be on the sweet side of live! When it comes to sweet treats, they don´t spare with milk, sugar, nuts and eggs. Spices like cinnamon, cloves and a tangy hint of citrus fruits often add a slightly exotic flavour that brings back memories of spanisch summer days.

Any spanish pastry shop is filled with glazed or powdered small treats, beautifully decorated and irresistably sweet in taste. It is quite common to bring a selection of bite-sized cakes when invited at a friends home for lunch or dinner.

A famous cake throughout Spain is the “Tarta de Santiago” or almond cake. It is made of butter, sugar, eggs, lemon zest and ground white almond – no flour added. This cake is a tradition from the northern Galicia region, powdered with confectioners sugar with a sign of the cross of Santiago spared out. With or without the sugared cross, almond cake is a favourite around Spain.

Another very popular sweet treat are the “Churros”. Its possible to eat those deep-fried dough pastries anytime of the day -they are offered in bars, bakeries and special Churro posts, where they are fried in the moment. Often they are acommpanied with a thick, creamy sweet hot chocolate to dip in. This uplifting delicacy is popular to enjoy even late at night or in the early moning of a night out, and also at new years eve.

Described already in medieval cooking books, the “Crema Catalana” is a delicious egg and cream custard with a slight orange aroma and crunchy burned caramel on top. Originated in the Catalunia region, it is served everywhere in Spain today, there is even an ice-cream and cake fillings with the same taste.

Popular family-meal desserts are “Arroz con Leche” and “Flan” – the first, a thick rice pudding spiced with cinnamon and orange zest, the latter an egg and caramel pudding.
Originating from the moorish times of Spain, creative sorbets and frozen desserts also have a long tradition. Remarkable are the Almond Sorbet from the Balearic Islands, or Orange Sorbet made of the juicy oranges from Valencia.

A seasonal speciality for Easter time are the “Torríjas”. Loafs of white bread, soaked with a mix of egg, milk and sugar, deep-fried and covered with cinnamon sugar – doesn´t that sound like a proper lent-time dish?

“Turrón” and “Polvorones” are two sweets mainly eaten during the christmas season. Turrón is made of candied sugar/honey and nuts, in different combinations, sometimes adding dried fruits or chocolate. It is originated from the moorish times – in English, there is a similar sweet called “Turkish Delight”. Polvorones are small, very crumbly cookies made of flour, sugar, almonds and pork lard. Sounds strange, but the taste is surprisingly mellow.

To close a meal, a fortified wine from Jerez “Sherry” or Malaga, often with some dry fruits and/or cheese, is another delicious addon to this mouthwatering list of spanish sweet treats.

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Tasty New Year 2018

In everything that ends also lies a new beginning…
We are very happy for the new year 2018 to start with our shiny new Food Hopping tours in several european cities – like Barcelona, Madrid, Frankfurt, Berlin and many more!
We wish all of you a wonderful New Years Eve and a Happy New Year 2018. May all your wishes come true!

Merry Christmas!

An exciting year full of tasty experiences comes to an end…
The whole team of Food Hopping Food Tours wants to thank you for your passion and trust in us – we wish you and your loved ones a Merry Christmas!
Frohe Weihnachten aus Deutschland!
Feliz Navidad a España!
Buon Natale a Italia!
Happy Holidays to the world!

 

Celebrating Saint Nicholas

Just before christmas, we’re celebrating Saint Nicholas Day in many countries to honour the christian bishop from the 4th century, who used his inheritance to help the sick, the suffering and the needy. However, there are different customs to celebrate this day in various countries, like Germany, Italy or Spain.

In Germany, St. Nikolaus is an important part of the christmas season. The evening before the 6th of december, children put their boots in front of the door and hope that Saint Nicholas comes and fills it up with nuts, oranges and sweets. In many families, Saint Nicholas even appears in person to ask the children if they were nice or naughty during the year. There are traditional songs, that the children sing to Saint Nicholas in order to prove their goodness. It is also a widespread custom to gift Saint Nicholas figures, made of chocolate, to friends and family.

In Italy, Santa Nicholas is known as gift-giver and protector of the children – today, his tradition is also refered to the more secular Babbo Natale. Children leave a plate with a letter on the table, where they ask for gifts and promise to be good next year. The next day, they find sweets and fruits – a naughty child could also get a peace of coal, made of coloured sugar.

In Spain, December 6th is even a bank holiday – but not for Santa Nicholas, but to remember the day of the constitution in Spain! The main Christmas period in Spain starts with the famous ‘Sorteo extraordinario de Navidad’, the Christmas lottery, on december 22nd, and lasts till January 6th, Holy Three Kings.

Wherever you are, the team of Food Hopping Food Tours wishes you a happy Saint Nicholas day, and hope you all found some nice treats!

Christmas Markets – A Delicious German Tradition

As Christmas is coming close, Christmas Markets are bustling everywhere in Germany and beyond.

Did you already taste those delicious treats like ‘Stollen’, ‘Lebkuchen’ or ‘gebrannte Mandeln’ that are so typical for those open-air-markets? Not to forget the mulled wine and grilled sausages to stay warm inside! With festive decorations and seasonal music, a Christmas Market is an ideal place to get into the holiday mode.

This tradition originates from mediaveal times, where trade fairs allowed the population to stockpile food and supplies before the hardest winter. Quickly the trade expanded to small artisanals, toys, sweets and nuts as christmas gifts for the children.

Today, almost every town and village in Germany has ists own Christmas Market. From small weekend gatherings, run by the local parish in smaller villages, up to world-famous markets like the “Christkindelmarkt” in Nurenberg or the “Striezelmarkt” in Dresden, that start End of November and end the day before Christmas.

Usualy a Christmas Market is an open air market, decorated with festive lights, where wooden stalls sell Christmas tree adornments, small gifts for children and adults as well as spices and sweets. Famous is the ‘Christstollen’, a sweet and filling bread with fruit and nuts, ‘Lebkuchen’ gingerbread and an almost infinite variety of ‘Weihnachts-Plätzchen’ cookies and biscuits.

In our times, Christmas Markets are a very popular gathering place to meet friends, drink mulled wine and eat warm delicacies such as grilled sausages, potato pancakes, hot soup or roast chestnuts.

And the allurement of Christmas Markets has spread even to Canada, tthe United States of America and even to Japan. In England, Birmingham, as the Partner City of our Home Base town Frankfurt, hosts a “Frankfurter Weihnachtsmarkt”.

Some of the delicatessen at a Christmas Market are special to this ocasion, but many delicious nibbles are also available during the year. So come and try authentic local specialities in Germany wit our Food Hopping Food Tours – our new tours in Frankfurt/Main and more! See you soon with

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Halloween the Italian Way

In Italy, especially in Sicily, there is a long tradition that children receive small gifts and sweets, supposedly from their ancestors, on the morning of All Saints. Despite of All Saints being a national holiday, and All Souls a local Sicilian holiday, these days have been a more religious than popular celebration.

During the last years, however, Halloween is getting more and more popular, especially among young people. It is not very common to go from house to house to ask for trick or treat, but there are costume parties for children and for young adults, disguising and enjoying the celebration like for the carneval season.

In fact, not the holiday itself is changing, but the way to celebrate it. New influences are embraced and added to the existing rites. Sicilian feasts are often related to special foods: San Guiseppe Day with stuffed cream sweets, San Martin Day to cantuccini biscuits and sweet vino santo, Santa Lucia Day with grain pudding, or days of local saints, like Santa Rosalia in Palermo or Santa Agatha in Catania with various culinaric posts throughout the city.
With our Food Hopping Tours, we integrate local culinaric traditions with top contemporary food stops where the locals come to enjoy their favorite treats – see you soon with

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