- Posted April 7, 2010 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Spoon Fed - Share your kitchen wisdom
Making Cultural Exchange Sweet
For over thirty years, Italian Easter Bread has been my traditional gift of sharing the celebration of the holiday with friends and family alike in the U.S. Now, as a Peace Corps volunteer, I remember how good it felt to work the dough and to talk with my grandma who always put so much care into the process of readying these for the tables of others. My grandma...that was in the early 1960's...I am a grandmother myself now and in time, again, I will prepare the sweet braided loaves with my own granddaughter in the states. But for now, I think about how much it meant to have a taste of something so carefully done and to take in the aroma of the baking and watch the simple ingredients miraculously become a shining piece of art in the process. There are always complements and certainly when the last piece is gone, I always want to make some more for myself, well after Holy Week celebrations have finished. And so, of all the things that I cherish, I can look upon this activity as one of the most simple, yet profoundly emblematic of the time that it takes to nurture and mold something which is more than a bread, it's a message of life and of giving. And it transcends borders. Since I've come to Romania I have been able to introduce many new foods to my neighbors here, one of them being this holiday treat. Especially as regards cuisine, the Romanian table is also very traditional as was with my Italian relatives. But, at times, it sorely lacks the gastronomic variety that comes from exposure to a host of different cultures such as we are privy to everyday back in America in restaurants, supermarkets or ethnic specialty stores. It is a joy for me to be able to make something so easily, with readily available ingredients, and at the same time take a few minutes to relax, reflect on the past, take it all in and then in the process be able to make the connection with another through the glory of deliciously homemade food. The symbolism of the breaking of the fast as well is not lost and at Easter, even though I live very far away from Charleston now, I can still be on familiar ground when recalling the purpose and the meaning behind the sharing of the bread. Like the little girl who once watched her Italian grandma, Carmella, in the kitchen that always smelled like licorice, while sitting at the naugahide and chrome table and chairs, drinking Red Rose tea with sugar and milk, waiting for the first piece of bread/cake with colored sprinkles that would someday be her way to a home away from home, I, too, now know that it has a meaning all it's own.
Here is the recipe which I sent to the Peace Corps volunteer cooking website "Pofta Mare" last month:
And, would somebody send me some more Anise Extract? Please!