We realize we may seem a little holiday-fixated around here. But one Easter has yet to come: Orthodox Easter, which falls on this coming Sunday, April 19. The use of two calendars often results in different timing in Western Easter's and Orthodox Easter's arrivals, which makes the day truly a movable feast.
Why is this worth a certain amount of hoopla? Well, look at the hunger pang-inducing bread shown above. One of the centerpieces of the Greek Orthodox Easter table, tsoureki paschalino (tsoo-REH-kee pahs-khah-lee-NO), or Greek Easter bread, is typically baked on Holy Thursday and traditionally shaped in a braid around an Easter egg. (The deep red dye symbolizes the crucifixion.) Tsoureki, a light yeast bread sometimes sweetened with a light touch of orange or almonds, has an airy, eggy texture similar to challah. A similar bread known as pinza is a mainstay on Italian Easter tables.
Within the Greek Orthodox church, Easter is considered by many to be the holiest day of the year. For many celebrants the period of Lent is one of self-discipline and self-purification during which one might refrain from treats or certain animal products. Additionally, on some days (traditionally Wednesdays and Fridays during the first weeks of Lent and every day during Holy Week) both wine and olive oil are also forbidden. The first post-Lenten meal is served after midnight Mass on Holy Saturday, where the traditional meal consists of mayeritsa (a soup made from the internal organs of the Easter lamb) and the deep maroon-dyed eggs that are part of the tsoureki.
Tsoureki is available in Greek bakeries; try this one, which ships its tsoureki.