Blog or Not?

A statistically improbable polymath's views on politics and culture.

Wednesday, March 31, 2004
You Mean It's Traditional?
Or, Why Calzones Contain Eggs.

Easter pizza. When I saw the NYTimes food section headline, I immediately pictured a pizza topped with a bunny made out of carrots. I clicked, realizing that the Times wouldn't feature a piece on cutesy children's table recipes--and discovered the Italian tradition of pizza rustica:

The meatiest and cheesiest of southern Italy's Easter pies, pizza rustica is a Neapolitan antipasto designed for breaking Lent. But the recipe is hardly sacred: it may be as dainty as quiche Lorraine, with flecks of boiled ham suspended in eggy custard, or ridiculously weighty, served in strapping slices that may or may not include prosciutto, capicolla, pancetta, cooked sausage, soppressata, pepperoni, salami, ricotta, mozzarella, pecorino and hard-boiled eggs (the token symbol of the holiday).

Or, to be more accurate, I discovered the why for a food that's on my Irish-Hungarian German grandmother's Easter table.

Every Easter my Uncle Tom, master butcher and meat expert for the (Italian-founded) grocery chain Dominick's, makes his calzone for the big family dinner. Since for most of my life I lived 500 miles away from most of the extended family, I was only able to experience this delectable creation for the past two Easters: flaky dough surrounding a melange of ricotta cheese, Italian sausage, ham, and a little hard-boiled egg. I always found the hard-boiled egg to be a curious addition to the mix, but now it all made sense--an Irish-American with a Puerto Rican wife adopted an Italian culinary tradition.

An additional note: We do not serve our Easter calzone with marinara.

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