Passover and Easter: Different celebrations, each centers around tradition, food & family
By Carmelo Sigona
When it comes to food, this time of year is one of the most meaningful and festive as the next week marks one of the most widely-observed times of the religious year for Christian and Jewish families. Our Sigona family knows more about the Easter foods and traditions, 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 father 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 11.99 each. We’ll also have cheery daffodils ($2.99 a bunch), fragrant freesia ($5.99 a bunch), large, Pescadaro-grown tulips ($9.99 a bunch), as well as beautiful and sweet-smelling lilacs ($5.99 a bunch). These blossoms are guaranteed to add the perfect touch to your Easter dinner table.
If you are a fan of chocolate, you’re in luck. In addition to our line of gourmet chocolates for filling Easter baskets, we have an opportunity for you to win a giant chocolate egg that’s filled…wait for it…with more chocolate! Our local vendor coupon this week is for three bars of Holy Chocolate, and we’re holding a Willy-Wonka style contest where you can win the giant chocolate egg filled with smaller chocolate eggs by getting the golden ticket, found in one of the Holy Chocolate bars. All you have to do is bring in your e-newsletter coupon to collect the free chocolates when you spend $30 or more. Then, don’t forget to check your chocolates for the winning golden ticket! More details here.
Dried fruit and nuts also comes into focus on two very important traditional foods: the Italian Panettone cake for Easter (also popular at Christmas), 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 and they use 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.
This year we’re rounded up family-favorite recipes from Sigona’s family and friends to share with you – we have some for Easter and some for Passover, including recipes for Grandma Franzella’s Traditional Sicilian Stuffed Artichokes and a Passover Sponge Cake.
We wish you a very happy celebration. May it be filled with blessings of gratitude, food, family, friends and fun!