Let’s get the scary stuff out of the way first. This is a post about soup with INTESTINES. (Wait! Come back!)
So, now that we are left with the brave folks here goes the story.
Mama Despoina (also my mum – she simply rocks) blogged the recipe for Magiritsa the other day, the Greek traditional soup eaten after the Resurrection. It’s incredibly yummy even though I know it sounds weird.
The other day I also described the Greek Orthodox Lent and you will remember that traditionally we go without any animal products for a bit more than 40 days. However, on Easter Sunday we actually roast a whole lamb. Here is an adequately scary picture to illustrate the point.
So here’s what leads up to the Magiritsa.
All through the last week of Lent – called the Great Week – the fasting becomes even more oppressive for those who choose to fast that way (no olive oil! seriously, for a Greek that’s like no water). These are great big Church going days, traditionally very loved by Greeks (the Byzantine hymns are lovely).
Great Saturday is the day of the Resurrection of Christ. We go to church around 10 at night and at about midnight the priests will utter the Χριστός Ανέστη (Christos Anesti – Christ has risen).
Χριστός ανέστη εκ νεκρών, θανάτω θάνατον πατήσας, και τοις εν τοις μνήμασι ζωήν χαρισάμενος.
Christos Anesti ek nekron, thanato thanaton patisas, kai tis en tis mnimasi zoin harisamenos.
Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by his death, and to those in the tombs, granted life.
Here’s the hymn, I dare you not to get goosebumps.
After this the idea is that you stay put for the rest of the liturgy which goes on until the wee hours of the morning. Fat chance of that of course, especially in Greece. There’s fireworks aplenty and you’ll see people exchanging kisses and wishes (quite loudly). And then there is the great stampede to get to the Resurrection spread back home. Ahem. Yes, we do eat after midnight, I am aware of that.
Especially if you’ve read the Magiritsa recipe you’ll see that stuff on that table are little bits of food that you were not allowed to eat for the last 40 days (at least). There’s eggs, cheese, liver and all that jazz.
I wish I had thought to ask a nutritionist but I think you could say that a soup with liver and intestines is a light enough meal for after midnight (for a Greek) and it can ease you back into meat-eating. Because the next day its time for the utter debauchery of the roast lamb.
However, there is a practical explanation and I subscribe to this one a lot more. A lamb has offal you can’t roast over an open fire, i.e. all of its inside bits. In the tough times of the past I think it would have been unimaginable to slaughter an animal and not to eat all of it. Additionally, the liver, heart, lung and intestines are the ones that will go bad sooner than the rest. So, you stick it in a soup.
Nowadays of course lots of people don’t like the intestines in their soup, so we leave it out. I actually love them so I truly enjoy it when I’m back in Greece for Easter and can have my Magiritsa there. Needless to say, while in London there is no chance of getting intestines. I think the butcher would probably banish me if I asked for them.
My London Magiritsa has lamb’s liver, heart and pig’s kidney. Still unbelievably yummy. Just follow Mama Despoina’s recipe and use what I use or any offal you like (lamb works best of course for an authentic taste). Give it a try.
Here are a few pics of my London Magiritsa. Enjoy.