I grew up in Melbourne’s inner-western suburbs. I was exposed to a plethora of cultures and experiences. My neighbours were Orthodox, Catholic, Anglican, agnostic… Sometimes we would have one Easter, and some years we got to celebrate two with our Orthodox neighbours.
Easter meant a nice piece of fish for Good Friday. Despite dad owning a boat to go fishing, the promise of a guaranteed Snapper from our fishmonger at Footscray Markets was too good to resist. As a family we would make our annual pilgrimage to see dad’s mate, John, for our fish. It was always a treat. John is Greek, and he could speak fluent Vietnamese. It was fantastic! I loved it! It was such an experience to see different cultures come together.
Mum has a standard recipe for her Good Friday dinner. Stuffed Snapper. I might be a Chef, but my mum’s baked Snapper would convert any person with a fish aversion (obviously not someone with an allergy). Juicy, flavoursome…. Served with homemade chips and garden salad. Everyone ate mum’s fish dinner on Good Friday. And there were never any leftovers.
When I was a child, there was no such thing as fruit-free or chocolate chip Hot Cross Buns. My mum does not like fruit in her Hot Cross Buns, cakes or anything else for that matter. It was dad’s domain to procure the buns. I didn’t mind them but loathed the chunks of citrus peel in them and would pick it out.
Saturdays involved a visit to the local shops for a nice leg of lamb and for vegetables to go with it… Because come Sunday, mum was roasting a leg of lamb *drool*. We were very lucky, because if the weather was cold enough, the woodstove would be lit, and the roast would be cooked in there. But first, The Bunny needed to visit my brother and I on Easter Sunday. Elegant Rabbits and Humpty Dumpty Easter treats were the standard. Of course, it was chocolate for breakfast.
If the Christian Easter was at the same time as the Orthodox Easter, our neighbours would share their beautiful Easter foods. Crescent Cakes, Easter Bread, hardboiled eggs dipped in special red food dye. I liked the chocolate, but to be honest, these gifts and treats were my favourite and looked forward to them every year whether our Easters fell at the same time or not.
Now I am married with a family of my own, we would normally be camping with friends or visiting family interstate. I would make Hot Cross Buns (with dried fruit and citrus peel) in my camping bread-bucket, cook some kind of camp-style dinner for Good Friday and same for Easter Sunday. This year, like it is for absolutely everyone, we have adapted to have Easter at home.
Good Friday 2020 was spent playing boardgames, going for a run and bike rides, watching movies, TV, colouring in, reading books. Breakfast was the usual Hot Cross Buns, but store bought from a local bakery. I don’t normally procure Snapper or any other fish as the children don’t really eat fish. They are learning to enjoy the delights of fish, for the time being it is tinned tuna turned into something they will eat. This Easter Sunday, my husband and I will roast a chicken on our kettle cooker; roast lamb is not a preferred dish of our progeny. Chocolate is a major feature each year. However, we also buy our children activities to do like colouring books or a new pair of pijamas (as we come into winter, very handy).
Although we aren’t able to spend the time with family or friends at the moment, we are trying to make Easter as special as possible. No campfires, but the wood heater is being lit in our house, stories are being shared, and learning to be more patient with each other.
This Easter, stay home, stay safe and make lots of phone calls to those you know and love.