Easter is to Greeks what Thanksgiving is to Americans: a glorious family feast with dishes that make the most of the young season’s early produce. Unlike Thanksgiving though, Easter (April 19 this year) is a four-day celebration, the religious reconstitution of ancient pagan rituals that celebrate the return of the spring: the feeling of the sun’s warmth, the renewal of the earth, the blossoming of plants after the dark and cold winter. Like all big Orthodox festivities, a forty-day period of Lent precedes Easter.
All foods deriving from animals with red blood – meat, dairy, and eggs— are prohibited; during the holy week, especially on Good Friday, even olive oil is banned from the table. Lentil soup, simply dressed with vinegar, was the traditional dish prepared for good Friday, but I propose a warm salad of mixed beans with garlic-lemon-tahini dressing, still within the rules of Lent, and much more interesting.
Regulations regarding Lent strictly bar all foodstuffs that have been in contact with animal products, widely conceived, and olive oil falls into that category. In the old days olive oil was extracted by pressing ground olive paste between mats woven with goat’s hair. Though technologies have since changed, certain traditions have not, at least come Good Friday
Not just church-going older Greeks, but many young people, who normally eat meat twice a day, fast during the holy week. Cuttlefish, octopus, and calamari, our beloved cephalopods, together with shrimp and of course lobster, replace meat in the seasonal, one-pot family meals. READ MORE (The Atlantic)