Passover and Easter: Different celebrations, each centers around food and family

Passover and Easter: Different celebrations, each centers around food & family

By Carmelo Sigona

Beautiful blossoms are a sure sign of spring.

When it comes to food, this time of year is one of the most festive as the next week marks one of the most widely-observed times of the religious year for Christian and Jewish families. Sundown on Monday marks the start of Passover and Easter is the following Sunday. We Sigonas know more about the Easter foods and traditions – especially some familiar to our Sicilian family, but two things are common to both feasts: food and family.

At Easter, as with most holidays, all the Sigonas – now four generations strong — get together at my mom and dad’s house in Morgan Hill. We have an Easter egg hunt for the kids, followed by a big meal. The menu usually includes artichokes, strawberries, ham and leg of lamb – and if we’re lucky, we’ll have pie that my grandfather makes from the apples and ollalieberries he still grows on the farm. We feel so blessed to have great-grandparents, grandparents, parents, and kids all around the same table!

In addition to the meal, we have lots of chocolate and lots of flowers around – all signs of celebration, new life and springtime.

To help you prepare for your own feasts and family gatherings we’ve brought a few extras into our Redwood City floral department. Of course, we’ll have lots of traditional, potted Easter lilies on hand for 10.99 each. We’ll also have cheery daffodils (2 bunches for $5), large, Pescadaro-grown tulips ($8.99 a bunch) as well as beautiful and fragrant lilacs ($8.99 a bunch). These blossoms are guaranteed to add the perfect touch to your Easter dinner table.

If you are a fan of excellent chocolate, you already know we have one of the best selections around. This year we’re bringing in an extra-special chocolate treat. It’s an ice cream specially made for Sigona’s called “Double Chocolate Marshmallow Bunny.” You can read more about that in the e-newsletter!

Dried fruit comes into focus on two very important traditional foods: the Italian Panettone cake for Easter, and Charoset for Passover.

Before the main course at a family Passover, the family — along with friends and others who join them — re-tell the story of liberation from slavery in Egypt. Special foods help tell the story. One of these is Charoset, a mixture of fruit and nuts. It symbolizes the mortar the Hebrew slaves were forced to make to build in ancient Egypt.

When most American Jewish families sit down to their family Seder, the Charoset is a mixture of apples, nuts and wine. We’ve discovered, though, while doing some recipe sourcing that there are about as many recipes as there are Jewish ethnicities! For example, Sephardic Jews, those who come from Spanish, Arabic or Mediterranean lands, will often favor ingredients popular in their own countries, such as dates or figs, pomegranates or pine nuts, or even coconut.

Whichever dried fruits your family uses to make its Charoset, we have the best the earth has to offer. Whether it’s apricots and dried cranberries, or dates and Mission figs, we have them, plus more than 150 other types of dried fruit and nuts.

I know I’m definitely looking forward to a side dish featuring pasta and cauliflower. It’s fantastic, easy and healthy dish that goes well with lamb. You can find the recipe in our e-newsletter.

We wish you a very happy celebration. May it be filled with food, family, friends and fun.

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