Food Traditions of the Easter holidays

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

Festive Easter food in Italy

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 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 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.

Colourfull Easter parades in Spain

Felices pascuas! Spain has a rich tradition of celebrating the Easter week with colourfull religious 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 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.

Easter-egg search in Germany

“Frohe Ostern!” Church processions are still existing in mainly catholic regions of Germany, and are no part of the protestant rite.  All Germans, however, 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 festive 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 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 leisurely walk through the heart of the city – during the festive season, or for your holidays. Hungry for more?

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Germany’s sweet side – bakery goods and desserts

GermaFood Hopping Food Tour sweet bakery Germanyny’s sweet bakery products, as well as delicious desserts, are famous worldwide. And that for good reasons: the German bakery and confectionery craftsmanship is organised since the 12th century, and the guilds set the level high ever since in serious artisan craft work. Also there is still much pride in home-made cakes and desserts, as well as a vibrant community of passionate leisure time pastry chefs, reinventing traditional recipes and sharing on social media.

Sweet bakery goods from Germany

There is an endless variety of cakes, pies, sweet breads and small pastries, often with fruits like apple, plums or berries, with or without different cream toppings. Cheese cake, baked with unique german dairy products like ‘Quark‘ or ‘Schichtkäse‘, is also a favourite. The doughs vary from yeast dough, shortcrust, sponge cake to puff pastry, with creative fillings and forms. During the christmas season, home-made cookies are a must in many families. As it comes to desserts, other than pastries, fresh seasonal fruits, fruit compotes, custard or groats puddings are the most popular traditional options. German chocolate, bonbons and jelly gums are a further huge area of highly elaborated pleasures.

Every region in Germany has their own favourite sweet treats – so we can only state a very small fraction of food favourites, from northern to southern Germany. On our Food Hopping food tours Germany, we can guarantee to satisfy your sweet tooth with authentic local tastes…

Sweet treats in the north of Germany

A popular dessert is the ‘Rote Grütze‘, made of red berries cooked with wine and thickened with starch, often served with ice-cream or custard. The town of Lübeck is famous for their marzipan. As the northern cities were big in sea trade from medieval times on, precious goods like almonds, cane sugar, cocoa and exotic spices were always fresh and available for confectioners.

Western region sweets of Germany

‘Pfannkuchen’ sweet egg pancakes, often filled with jelly, fresh fruits or chocolate cream, are a shared speciality with the French, Belgian and Dutch neighbours. One of the most famous German cakes, however, is the ‘Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte‘ the black-forrest cake, named from the south-western mountain area of Schwarzwald. It is an impressive cacao-sponge cake, soaked with cherry spirit, filled and topped with cooked red sour cherries, sweetened whipped cream and chocolate flakes.

Sweet bakery in Eastern Germany

This area is particularly renown for baked pastries. To pick some in particular, the ‘Dresdner Stollen‘ is a durable sweet bread, made with yeast, dry fruits, a marzipan filling and spread with butter and confectioners sugar after baking. It is a typical Christmas cake, that should rest for 2-3 weeks after baking, to be tender to eat at the holidays. The deep-fried ‘Krapfen‘ or ‘Berliner‘ are similar to doughnuts, but instead of having a hole in the middle, they are ball-like and filled with sweet fruit paste or cream. Throughout Germany, they are a favourite carnival pastry.

Orchard sweets in the centre of Germany

Fruit-bearing trees provide a rich harvest for diverse fruit desserts. From apple-cheesecake, plum griddle cake with crumbles, bread pudding with cherries, to more peculiar ingredients like rhubarb, rose hip or goose berries, all make delicious cakes and desserts. Unique German dairy products, like ‘Dickmilch‘ or ‘Schmand‘, add fresh tangy flavours to balance the sweetness. A full meal itself are ‘Kartoffelpuffer‘, potato fritters with apple sauce.

Cooked sweet pastry of the south of Germany

Southern Germans share a preference for cooked pastry with the Austrian neighbours. ‘Dampfnudeln‘ and ‘Germknödel‘ are sweet white dumplings, made with yeast dough, sometimes filled with fruit puree and steamed, not baked. They are served with butter, sugar and crushed poppy seeds, or with fruit sauces or custard. Typical is also the famous ‘Bayerischcreme‘ or Bavarian cream, a white cream made with eggs, milk, gelatin and heavy cream, flavoured with vanilla bean and topped with fruit sauce.

To conclude our little insight into Germany’s sweet side, the afternoon coffee or tea, together with a piece of cake or pastry, is a beloved tradition, especially at the weekends. No wonder – with such a variety of mouthwatering sweet foods at sight!
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Italy’s sweet side – ice-cream and dolce

Food Hopping Food Tour Italy sweet ice-creamDolce vita, Italy’s 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:

Italian frozen sweet desserts

Gelato: the all-italian soul food. Already the roman emperors enjoyed glacier ice mixed with fruit syrup, brought by runners from the alps. From the 17th century on, recipes of ice-cream with milk or cream exist. The secret of smooth ice-cream lies in continuous whisking while the ice crystallises.
From the most classic tastes like vanilla, chocolate or strawberry to modern innovations 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!

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!

Creamy sweets in Italy

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 Food Tour in Venice.

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

Sweet Italian cake desserts

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 Food Tour 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!

Delicious sweet Italian wine dessert

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 – almonds and oranges

Food Hopping Food Tour Spain sweet treatsThe 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 spanish summer days.

Sweet Spanish pastry

Any Spanish pastry shop is filled with glazed or powdered small treats, beautifully decorated and irresistibly 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 accompanied 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 morning of a night out, and also at new years eve.

Spanish sweet and fruity cream desserts

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.

Candied almond and fried sweets in Spain

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.

Famous sweet wines of Spain

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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