Most holidays have their own traditions and Easter makes no exceptions. At this time of the year in Naples we eat particular dishes and each one have its own story. Would you like to know more? Find out with us 5 typical dishes that surely cannot miss on our tables.
The appetizer: sausage slices, bacon, eggs, cheese, provolone. The name comes from “fella”, which in Neapolitan means slice, in fact, the ingredients are all cut. The eggs are cut in half or in wedges. Every single ingredient has its own meaning: for example, the sausages represent the earth’s richness, ricotta the union, while eggs symbolize life and rebirth.
One of the typical Neapolitan dishes, a salty donut – shaped cake made with bread dough, cold cuts, eggs and cheese. The name comes from the word “case”, which in Neapolitan dialect means cheese. It has a Christian symbolism, in fact its circular shape and the eggs encased by dough remind the crown of thorns of the crucified Christ. The first records date back to the seventeenth century. In 1634 the fable La gatta Cenerentola (Cinderella the cat), from the Neapolitan writer Giambattista Basile, tell us something about the Neapolitan cuisine. To celebrate the research of the girl who had lost her shoe, the King gave a big party. The description of the festivities has a testimony of the Casatiello, considered the nobleman’s food.
According to the tradition, the King Ferdinand I loved seafood and fish. He loved mussels so much that he fished himself. The Dominican Gregorio Maria Rocco suggested to the King to think about the poorer class and not let the gluttony overcome him, at least during the holy week. The king then ordered his cooks to prepare the mussel soup in a simpler and more “humble” way: soup with tomatoes and pepper sauce. The king loved the soup so much that he ordered the cooks to spread the recipe throughout the city of Naples and since then for the Parthenopean Republic, eating mussel soup on Holy Thursday became a tradition.
The lamb represents the passion of the Christ, his resurrection. It dates back to the Jewish tradition: God announced that he would have saved the Israelites people from the Egyptian slavery and that the infidels would have been punished. The innocents had to mark the doors of their home with some lamb’s blood. By doing this they would have saved their firstborn from the tenth plague, the same one that caused the death of the firstborn of the Egyptians, including the Pharaoh’s son, who convinced himself to let the Israelites free right after this sad episode.
Easter is not the same without a pastiera. This cake has 2 stories. One day Maria Teresa of Austria, the wife of King Ferdinand II of Bourbon, tasted a piece of pastiera. The woman, who was nicknamed by the soldiers the “Queen who never smiles”, suddenly smiled for the first time. The King said “We needed a pastiera to make my wife smile. Now I have to wait until next Easter to see her smile again”.
The second story is a legend. It is told that in the gulf of Naples, lived a mermaid which every spring emerged from the waters, delighting people with love songs. To thank her everybody decided to give her 7 gifts: flour, eggs, ricotta, wheat, sugar, spices and orange flowers water. The mermaid gave these gifts to the gods, who mixed the ingredients, turning them into the pastiera, something sweet, just like the mermaid song.