Guest Author - Barbara Swiech
Holy Saturday announces the end of the Lent, therefore from Sunday breakfast the Poles eat meals that were forbidden within the last 40 days. Cakes and other sweets, sour soup with blessed ingredients, numerous eggs with horseradish and horseradish mixed with beetroot, sausage and other cold cuts are the products that one will find on Polish table during the Easter.
HARD BOILED EGGS – the most important dish during Easter are hard boiled eggs with additions. Some of them are, beforehand, embellished in various ways depending on the region but most of the time called ‘pisanka’. One of popular way of decorating the eggs is boiling them together with red onion leaves. Having acquired red colour, the eggs are scratched with a razor-blade to give them various patterns or designs. The eggs are afterwards eaten with salt, a little bit of grated horseradish or beetroot mixed with horseradish.
ZUREK / BARSZCZ BIALY – ‘zurek’ (known also in some regions as ‘barszcz bialy’ – red borscht) is sour soup usually eaten with a little bit of sausage (as well as ground mushrooms) and egg. During Easter the Poles remember to add to sour soup the very ingredients that were taken before to the church and blessed: eggs and sausage. That is why we call it a soup with ‘swieconka’ (blessed food).
BABKA – ‘babka’ or ‘baba’ is a sweet spongy yeast cake traditionally baked for Easter Sunday in Poland as well as many East European countries. The pastry is made of yeast blended with warm milk and mixed with flour, sugar and a little bit of salt. There are, however, couple types of Easter ‘babkas’ – some made of big number of eggs (even up to 180!). Traditionally the cake has a type of fruit filling, especially raisins, and is topped with fruit-flavoured icing. The name ‘baba’ or ‘babka’ comes from a word meaning ‘grandmother’ – probably due to its shape resembling skirt’s pleats.
MAZUREK – this is another type of typical Easter cake that can be made of various kinds of pastries - short cake, sponge cake or other – interlaid with marmalade or jam. The top of the cake is decorated with icing and embellished with fruit and sweetmeats. ‘Mazurkis’ can have various shapes: round, square or triangle.
During Easter all dishes are allowed. The most popular are of course various kinds of sweets that Polish housewives prepare for this period. Apart from sour soup, all the dishes made of eggs are presented on the tables – from simple hard boiled eggs with additions such as sauces to filled eggs and egg salads. The egg is a symbol of revival and new life, therefore Easter (the period when the Christians celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ) is closely interconnected with it.