Our Precious Egg: The Foods of Easter, Passover and Nowruz

The Egg has been on my mind a lot lately.  As I boiled eggs this passover for our seder the memories started rolling in.  I remembered my next door neighbor as a kid, bringing over a giant chocolate easter egg and bunny from his bakery or cracking open those uber lip smackingly sweet cadbury eggs. 

Then I thought of the elaborate easter egg displays in bakeries and restaurants here in NYC and the ones that I shot in our rome travel diary in Italy at Pasticceria Bompiani.  Chef Musco, a former gallery owner, has taken the the tradition of egg decoration to a totally new level by creating one of a kind huge chocolate eggs every year that are true works of art inspired by art.

 Pasticceria Bompiani's Chocolate Easter Eggs inspired by Keith Haring and Francis Bacon

Pasticceria Bompiani's Chocolate Easter Eggs inspired by Keith Haring and Francis Bacon

It occurred to me that the Egg as a central symbol for Easter also has a place on the Passover table and Nowruz celebration, all week-long holidays in which food, ingredients and eating around table take on a central and common theme.

The Huffington post published some great articles about egg symbolism and tradition for Iranian Nowruz, Passover and Easter.

These spring holidays which all occur around the equinox, all use the egg to symbolize birth, in christianity the resurrection or rebirth of christ, in judaism, the beginning of the potential of something (i.e. as chabad says, the jews freedom from slavery allowed them to begin again and begin the process of starting together as free people,) and in nowruz(Iranian new year, new day) the painted eggs symbolize fertility and may be seen on the ceremonial haftseen table.

 Hasftseen Table is a traditional ceremonial table of Nowruz, Persian New Year 

Hasftseen Table is a traditional ceremonial table of Nowruz, Persian New Year 

The egg also being round in nature is a symbol of earth itself.  I love the interconnectedness of these holidays, the tradition of painting and decorating eggs for easter and nowruz,

 Potatoes were used as the karpas on passover table in eastern europe when poor Jews didn't have green vegetables.

Potatoes were used as the karpas on passover table in eastern europe when poor Jews didn't have green vegetables.

It is common to eat herbs, bitter herbs called maror and Lettuce or green herbs called karpas.  During Nouruz, Persians eat spring vegetables and rice with green herbs and fava beans, a seasonal legume which crops up during this time.  While herbs play a central role in Persian cooking and Nowruz foods like Kuku Sabzi, Iranians also, like the christians during holy week, eat fish.  Of course the lamb, the spring lamb, a symbol of Jesus, is a common food served during these holidays as well.  Roasted leg of lamb or lamb shanks are common passover and Easter dishes.  The Paschal lamb, if you will.

 Lamb as often the first kind of meat available after a long winter.  We see lamb or the Paschal Lamb served traditionally during Passover and Easter.

Lamb as often the first kind of meat available after a long winter.  We see lamb or the Paschal Lamb served traditionally during Passover and Easter.

Pascua, the latin word for pesach (passover) is the Italian word for Easter.  It is thought that last supper was actually a passover seder.  So while we spend all this time nowadays focusing on so many of our differences, we actually have much in common.

 Fish is a symbol of life and is often eaten during Nowruz and during Lent and on Good Friday

Fish is a symbol of life and is often eaten during Nowruz and during Lent and on Good Friday

This Spring, I've had the opportunity to cater a huge nowruz event, prepare a seder meal for my family and this Sunday visit some relatives who are celebrating Easter.  Let us celebrate these spring holidays and respect each other's traditions and learn from each other.  We have so much to share together on this egg of an earth.