Easter is a sacred time and in Umbria, even Easter breakfast must be sacred. Before Easter as you wander the Umbrian countryside, you might see whisps of smoke curling up out of the wood bread ovens. What’s inside? Huge cheesebreads. Many. Probably fifteen to twenty. There is no more appreciated Easter gift than a homemade cheesebread (la torta di formaggio). Our dear farm friend, Peppa, always gives us one. She no longer bakes as many of them, nor in her outdoor wood-burning oven. She bakes ten in 2 batches in her indoor woodstove. But ah, the flavor is there.
On Holy Saturday afternoon, she heads up to our local country church or the cheesebreads blessing, carrying a basket of goodness. A bottle of her own wine, salami, hard-boiled egg, salt (propitious!) are tucked in around the cheese bread – and a sprinkles- topped sweet cake (for Easter lunch dessert).
A colorful array of baskets in front of the altar greets Padre Giuseppe as he comes into the church for the blessing, our rural friends filling the pews of the small country church.
All the baskets are covered with lovingly embroidered textiles – but folded back so that the cheese breads, salamis (capocollo in some baskets) and hard-boiled eggs can “receive” the blessing. Some women uncork their wine bottles “so that the blessing can get in, ” Peppa solemnly explained to me. Nowadays, colorful cellophane-wrapped huge chocolate Easter eggs join the simple rural goodness in some baskets.
Farm families will feast on an Easter breakfast of blessed salami or capocollo topped with a slice of cheesebread for Easter breakfast – accompanied by the blessed wine, logicamente – and the hard-boiled eggs, drizzled with the farm family’s olive oil and sprinkled with the propitious salt. Peppa never prepares an antipasto to serve before the cannelloni and roast lamb of Easter lunch: “perche’ la colazione e gia’ abbondante” (“because breakfast is already so abundant”).
But we had Peppa’s cheesebread gift as our Easter lunch antipasto, along with salami, bresaola and fresh eggs from our chickens. Not hard-boiled, though, but used to make a frittata with the wild asparagus I’d found in our woods that morning.
And mille grazie, Peppa, for – once again – adding to our Easter abundance.
Read more on Easter cheesebreads rituals – and the recipe!
Read about the cheese breads for Easter Sunday breakfast
Read about Good Friday celebrations in Assisi
Click here for more on Good Friday tradtions in Assisi
Read about Peppa’s wine-making
Read about Peppa’s wine lore
Click for more on Peppa’s wine and a sacred rural tradition
Read about Peppa’s bread salad
Read about Peppa’s celebration of her new olive oil
Read about Peppa celebrating chestnuts, new wine and new olive oil
Read about learning to make a traditional bread with Peppa
Read about hunting chicory with Peppa
Click here to read about Peppa and her legumes
Read about how Peppa can take off the evil eye!
Read about Peppa and the rural rite of veglia
Read about the joy of feasting with Peppa