Saturday, January 7, 2017

Epiphany Treats

Yesterday, January 6th was Epiphany, the day the Three Wisemen visited the Christ Child with gifts. The day and the treats that go with it can be extended for more celebrating. There are a variety of different dishes that celebrate this joyous day.

Different sects of Christianity celebrate the day with unique and diverse customs. Roman Catholics and Episcopalians celebrate with a King cake. This also makes appearance at Mardi Gras too, it's more of a cinnamon bread rich with cinnamon , nutmeg and butter. Raisins are also added too for color and added sweetness. There is usually a charm or even just a simple bean added  and the person who finds it is crowned king or queen. The Episcopalians have their version of this, namely any kind of cake but a light colored cake enables eaters to see the trinkets. Tiny plastic babies, representing Baby Jesus are added as well as dimes, symbolizing money, toy rings that symbolize the church's blessing, thimbles for increased industry, buttons for increased spiritual knowledge, shoes for waking in Jesus' path and fruit to reap the fruit of Christian living.One or all can be added. Germany and Mexico also serve similar cakes. Again the German version is more of a lemon and orange infused sweet bread with an almond hidden inside. Mexicans put candied fruit such as figs , raisins and citron in theirs.

Italy has the tradition of La Befana, the witch who visits with gifts.Mostly these are sweets being put into a stocking (sound familiar?) and the occassional lump of charcoal (again - sound familair) There is a savory dish made, namely a rich lasagna made with seafood and Cognac, whiskey and white wine. The seafood is shrimp and clams  enrobed in a rich bechamel sauce. The Greeks too have put their spin on this time honored and ancient holiday. Young men  dive into whatever body of water is nearby to retrieve a cross their priest has thrown in. Afterwards, they eat a dish made with wheat and peas called fotokoliva to ensure good health and fortune in their homes. They also fed their livestock this too, for  a prosperous and fertile year, The Northern Greeks make a giant bean and onion casserole that consists of fava or cannellini beans and baby onions. Fresh and canned crushed tomatoes are added for more flavor and color along with paprika and sugar. Bay leaves give the stew a nice earthy kick. The Greeks also serve several sweet breads such as Saint Basil's bread, all with a hidden coin tucked inside for luck.

This is a weekend to continue with holiday feasting and gift giving. Celebrate Epiphany with different dishes and sweet, along with lsitening to the story of the Magi.It's a nice extension of Christmas and New Year's.

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