Easter

My Easter weekend has been..diverse, but wonderful in its own way! For Maundy Thursday I went to the Russian Orthodox church in Cambridge for vespers with the reading of the 12 Gospels. This service is looong. And involves standing the whole time. But, it is quite beautiful in the dark candlelit chapel. There were probably about 30 people there in total, about a third of which were either clergy or chanters.

This church shares the chapel of Westcott House, which is one of the theological colleges affiliated to the university. The main thing this means is that the church itself is very different from most Orthodox churches. It is completely plain, with white and undecorated walls. The contrast between this and nearly every other Orthodox church, richly decorated with icons and goldleaf, is dramatic, but the effect is really lovely. In addition, the chapel is local in this mysterious courtyard, that reminds me of the Secret Garden. It really is an oasis.

When I came home, I found that Trinity’s Great Gate was floodlit – and beautiful! So I had to snap a shot! 

 On Good Friday I started out by going to Choral Evensong at King’s College Chapel. Sadly I have no photos, as they aren’t permitted. I admit I was tempted to play the ignorant tourist and take photos anyway, but wasn’t brave enough. Anyway, the music was Tallis’s ‘The Lamentations of Jeremiah’ and it was melancholy and dramatic, perfect for Good Friday. Plus, the choir is absolutely heavenly. This particular service was only the choral scholars – in the other words, the students at the college who are in the choir only, not the boys, so the voices were more mature and serious, which made the effect that much more serious.

Later in the evening I went to the Greek Orthodox church for the service of the Epitaphios, where we processed with the Epitaphios around the church, through the streets of Cambridge. This service started small, but I think most of the Greeks in Cambridge showed up for the procession. The looks on the passer-bys faces were hilarious. 🙂

A blurry photo of the Epitaphios

 The crowd.

 We are now in the middle of a street, and the Epitaphios can be seen in the distance.

 A bus attempting to navigate the crowd. Poor bus driver didn’t realise he was dealing with Greeks here, who were certainly not jumping to get out of his way.

 Continuing along, still in the middle of a street! At this point, we passed a pub and a friendly neighbourhood drunk joined in and ‘chanted’ along with the priest for a bit. The congregation handled it with good humour though, and he drifted away soon after.

My candle

 Back inside the church, another cheeky photo. This church building is shared between the Greek Church of Sts Anastatios and Clement, and the Anglican church of St Clement. The building is 13th century I believe, and beautiful. It is a little bit dilapidated, but that adds to its charm. In this church, however, there are icons everywhere (although not visible here!) and these two churches seem to coexist quite well.

On Saturday, I embarked upon my last (maybe) baking adventure of this term before exams. Tsoureki – Greek easter bread. I also wanted to dye eggs – both the traditional Greek red, and the American way with fake bright colours!

In order to get the deep red I was hoping for, I used onion skins to make a dye. This should have worked well, except at the same time I started hard boiling other eggs for American dye. Partway through, I realised I hadn’t counted how many to leave for the Tsoureki. I had just enough, but that meant I didn’t have any left over for boiling in the red dye..  I ended up just putting the already-boiled eggs in the dye and hoping it would work. It didn’t really..

 The tsoureki operation began with a few issues. First of all, I was missing several key spices – mastiha and mahlepi, both of which my Yiayia used in her recipe. I found a recipe online that used anise seed, which I also didn’t have, so I went with just orange zest. Second issue was the yeast I bought from Sainsbury’s (the only type they sold) was ‘fast-action’ and I wasn’t sure how this would translate to my recipe. Seems to have worked though. Third mishap – no mixing bowls. In this photo, that is my dough… in a wok. It did the job!

 Rising, rising…

Meanwhile, preparing the egg dye. I bought a pack of PAAS dye in Atlanta and brought it back for egg adventures. During this process, I learned the English don’t dye eggs. I was explaining what I was doing, and no one understood! I had no idea this wasn’t done here..

  The dough rose!! Yes that is in a sauce pan. I won’t get into the nitty gritty of the recipe because I really didn’t follow it very well. I am kind of sad about this because I was envisioning a beautiful food-blog style post with a recipe and lovely pictures of tasty food. Sadly, I really don’t have the facilities. This kitchen is great, but dragging all my stuff there is a whole day affair. Plus, there are no mixing bowls. Ah well, my food/cooking blog dream will have a chance at life over the summer when I am finally back in our beautiful and fully equipped kitchen at home!

I am quite proud of this lovely braid. This is first rising, getting ready for another round. Again, in the meantime I had to do something so I attempted to make cheese. I know how random this sounds, but I had come across directions somewhere that basically said – heat milk, add yoghurt, add vinegar and salt, drain. This is what I did, and it worked! I ended up with a soft, sort of feta-like cheese, that I think is probably closer to ricotta. It’s not very salty, but mild and not bad at all.

Tsoureki post second rising, and ready for the oven. They are being cooked in roasting trays because there weren’t any baking trays.. Poor guys.

And….success!!

The second loaf smushed into his tray. They really should have had a bit more space.. Oh well!

It turned out to be delicious. Probably not as flavourful as tsoureki should be, but still sweet (but not too sweet) buttery/eggy delicious. I shared some slices with my friends who had come by to watch the drama.

This entire cooking adventure took me until about 4pm. By that point, I was in desperate need of a shower, so headed back to my room.  Soon after I received a call from Sainsbury’s delivery, passing along a message from a mysterious Easter Bunny who communicates to me via my father. In any case, a delivery was on its way! So I met the Sainsbury’s man and unloaded a huge stash of edible goodies. The Easter Bunny knows me well..!

Greek Yoghurts and Cheese

Smoothies, veggies, humous, shrimp (AH!) and smoked salmon (ah!)
Cereal type goodies, granola, flapjacks, oatcakes – yum!

And the Easter basket I made for myself, complete with Peeps that travelled with me all the way from the USA, as well as the basket and glass bunny from the parents.

There were a lot more chocolate goodies than could fit in an artistic easter basket photo. Here is a shot of the spread..

 Another version of my easter basket, this time with a Greek red egg. Sadly, this egg was dyed with my American stuff..

Something, however, went wrong in the process. Possibilities: 1) the eggs started off brown. 2) I used white wine vinegar, instead of plain white.

Fail.

 This is the PAAS fake red egg, up close.

And the ‘naturally’ dyed egg. Oops.
On Saturday night I headed back to the Greek church for the Pascha service at midnight. I sneakily took this photo after the light was brought out and the Priest announces ‘Christ is risen!’ Right before this moment, the entire church is darkened, and we wait in silence for a moment. Then the solitary light emerges, and soon everyone has lit their own candle and the light is everywhere! I think this is my favourite moment of Easter.

 I brought my candle home with me, although this was a little scary. It was windy and I hadn’t brought anything to protect the flame. But we both made is safely back to my room!

 I set up the candle in my window (in a pint glass – is that bad?) while I had a sneaky 1am chocolate binge and got ready for bed. I was quite worried about the newly-installed smoke alarm, so I had my window open, but had to blow it out before going to sleep.

 In the morning, this wreckage greeted me.. I went slightly crazy, I will freely admit..
 

I did, however, have a very civilised Easter breakfast – a tiny salad (with cheese!! oh yum yum), one of my unfortunate red eggs, a slice (or two, or ten) of my tsoureki with homemade cheese, and smoked salmon(!!!!). Plus some smoothie.

The problem with this delicious plate, however, is that there is no chocolate. Never fear, I took care of that too. This, my friends, is banana dipped in melted dark chocolate. Excellent breakfast food.

(had to make this photo extra big to do justice to the chocolate drip. mmmm)

I went back to King’s Chapel for the Easter service, which was both a good and bad decision. Bad first.

Yep, that is a giant queue. I ended up only getting a seat the ante-chapel (and I got there twenty minutes early!). The good part was the service was incredible, and a lot of it happened in the ante-chapel so I really didn’t miss much. I had a view of the organ screen which was something like this:

(source)

Pretty incredible if I do say so. The service itself was nice, and started off ‘Jesus Christ is Risen Today,’ a classic Easter hymn that – with a huge congregation, that organ, and the King’s Choir was glorious. Sitting where I was, I got to see elements of the service that I don’t always – for example, the Gospel reading and the procession into the church. The ceremony is actually very similar to Orthodox tradition – a priest with a censer in the procession, censing the Gospel book before the reading, etc., which I found to be pretty interesting. Sometimes it amazes me how little the Reformation changed some Anglican churches. I managed some sneaky shots – this one I took with my camera in my bag, so sorry about my face in it!

At the end of the service, they opened the huge doors at the back, which I’ve never seen before. It made everything even more gorgeous, if possible.

Anyway! After church I wandered through town for a little while, enjoying a glorious day and the joy of Easter. Back in my room I headed for chocolate, round two. Chocolate porridge with raspberries, dark chocolate chunks, and bits of dark chocolate chips.

It tasted as good as it looks. Sadly, the stomach was not ready for this. There was no actual illness, but I felt pretty awful.

I was also greeted by a lovely surprise sitting outside my door.
Julia’s mom left this sweet surprise for me! (REESE’S YUM)
The rest of Easter Sunday I spent… in the library. Which is what I did today as well.. On the upside, I did manage a delicious salad, in between all the chocolate, taking advantage of some of the Easter Bunny’s goodies.

A slightly stained egg makes an appearance, along with some little pieces of smoked salmon just peeking through. Delicious Easter remnants. Actually, I think I’m going to be eating Easter remnants for a very long time. There is another full loaf of tsoureki in my room, plus the remainder of the first one, not to mention about 10 hardboiled eggs and approximately my body weight in chocolate. I won’t be going hungry, that’s for sure!

Happy Easter!

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2 thoughts on “Easter

  1. THAT FOOD LOOKS AMAZING! That bread particularly looks amazing! Reminds me of challah.And I bet those services in ye olde Cambridge must of been absolutely breathtaking!

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