Thursday, March 24, 2016

The Southern American traditional Easter dinner.

Every year Easter rolls around and magazines and websites are full of weird ideas for Easter. Southern Living had some really strange ones that aren't traditional at all. With all the food blogs and chefs on TV 24 hours a day 7 days a week, everyone is rushing for something unique. Unique is good for those who prefer it, but I'd say 75% of America doesn't.

Just like other countries, America has its own traditional Easter menu. I'm not talking upper middle class menus that serve expensive lamb and the like. I'm talking your typical middle class hard working family who lives paycheck to paycheck. If you want to try something American, then this is it.

Most American feasts are actually family or church potlucks. Everyone brings a dish and we feast. You bring enough of one dish that would feed the same number of your immediate family. This saves costs. Easter is a happy time and outside of our Savior, children are usually the center of htings when it comes to the day.

This list is what you'd usually find at an Easter potluck. It doesn't mean it's exact. It's just what you'll commonly find. The reason is that we normally go with what is cheaper at the time, meaning more plentiful. Spring vegetables are the ones plentiful and those are taken advantage of.

A whole ham. If your family is big or it's for church, a number of whole hams. It's cooking method is up to whomever makes it but traditionally, it's a simple roast. Why ham I'm really not sure. My personal theory is related to piglets. Piglets are usually born in the very early spring, so adults are ready to be used as meat. Yes, it's sad. If I had to raise my own animals for meat, I'd be a vegetarian, but I digress. The point is that I'm pretty sure in the old days it's because ham was plentiful.

Deviled eggs. We don't eat the ones we boil, dye and hide. It sits out too long and in the south, it gets rather warm so it's not all that appetizing. Eggs aren't any more plentiful than any other time of year, except that hens don't lay as often during winter. Perhaps that's how our egg tradition began. They started laying more heavily again in Spring.

The rest are also plentiful in Spring too.

Lemonade is often served as a drink for the kids and sweet tea with lemon for the adults. Traditional potato salad is very common as are strawberry shortcakes. All kinds of salads. In the south our growing season lasts longer than others and we have mild winters. Salad greens or any greens grow well just before Easter. We also have a lot of fruit salads and even vegetable salads too.

Dinner rolls are absolutely required. We don't necessarily eat cornbread, though we do eat a lot of it nearly all the time, but Easter is the one time I rarely (if ever) see it.

Small finger sandwiches are popular, but we're not talking turkey, chicken or anything. It will be things such as pineapples (yes, we had them year after year at church and home, they are to die for) or tuna.

Jello or jello salad like things is the final touch there. Most of the southern Easter dinner is served cold. We get warm around Easter so as you may have noticed, these are all cold foods. Now it's not unusual to see casseroles and such as well that are served warm, but the standard menu is usually cold foods.

How about your region? What do you do differently?

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