Eggs at Easter and other foodie customs
Eggs have even longer associations in Pagan traditions where they symbolise the Spring & fertility.
The tradition of giving eggs in England was thought to originate from The Crusaders who borrowed the idea of giving dyed eggs from countries such as Mesopotamia, Syria & Greece.
By the thirteenth century the tradition of exchanging coloured hard-boiled eggs on Easter Sunday was established with the eggs being coloured by boiling them in natural dyes such as onion skins for golden brown, beetroot juice for red and logwood chips for a deep purplish blue.
By the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries coloured hard boiled eggs were replaced by egg-shaped toys and the first chocolate eggs were made in 1873 by J.S. Fry (now part of the Cadbury empire) on Union Street in Bristol. Over 80 million chocolate eggs are now sold in the UK each Easter!
Apart from eggs, the other foods denied during lent (meat, cream, cheese & butter) feature heavily in recipes from mediaeval England including roast lamb with apple fritters and duck and spinach tarts with clotted cream. Eggs were also made into custards including this delicious recipe for a rich custard tart taken from Porters Seasonal Celebrations Cookbook.
Kentish Pudding Pie
250g shortcrust or puff pastry
Strip of lemon peel
40g ground rice
Pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 200⁰C/400⁰F/gas mark 6.
Roll out the pastry about 1.5cm think and line a baking dish. Bake blind (prick the base and place a piece of greaseproof paper with some baking beans) for 10-15 minutes.
Reduce the oven temperature to 180⁰C/350⁰F/gas mark 4.
Heat most of the milk slowly with the lemon peel and bring to the boil.
Mix the ground rice with the remaining cold milk and salt until smooth. Stir into the hot milk and bring to the boil, stirring constantly. Simmer gently for 5 minutes, stirring to prevent the mixture sticking to the pan.
Remove from the heat and beat in the butter and sugar.
Allow to cool slightly , then beat in the eggs, mixing thoroughly. Stir in the currants and pour into the pastry case.
Bake for about 40-45 minutes, or until the filling is firm and golden brown. Serve warm.