Celebrating an Italian Easter in Washington

The Christian holiday of Easter marks the day followers believe Jesus Christ returned to life. Christians usually observe the holiday with religious services in church. But Easter is also a time for families to get together and enjoy a special dinner with traditional foods.

People in the United States come from all over the world. And different cultures celebrate Easter with different foods.

In one of the oldest neighborhoods in Washington, D.C. there is an Italian market that carries special goods to celebrate an Italian Easter.

Suzy and Bill Menard own Via Umbria, in Georgetown. In the middle of the store they have placed a huge chocolate egg.

"That egg weighs 13 pounds. It's a milk chocolate egg. And then, it probably took 4 hours for them to do just the decorations on the front of it. So, you get your beautiful Buona Pasqua (“Happy Easter” in Italian) with the floral sCRIpt."

But if a 13 pound egg is too much for you, Via Umbria offers many smaller Easter chocolates as well.

Celebrating an Italian Easter in Washington

"Fabric wrapped eggs in milk and dark chocolate, our different versions of the Easter bunny, we've got chocolates that have been hand-painted, covered with nuts, and also the smaller version of the beautiful, big chocolate egg we looked at earlier."

There are many different kinds of cakes for celebrating Easter. One, the Colomba cake, is shaped like the bird called a dove. Doves represent peace in many cultures.

Suzy says the Colomba cake it is a yeast cake that rises for 30 hours before baking.

13-pound chocolate egg at Via Umbria

"They use all rich butter and fresh eggs and the yeast takes 30 hours to rise that's what gives it its beautiful texture."

She also desCRIbes some of the meat products that they sell, such as lamb and pork. These can be used to make traditional dishes for Easter dinner.

“We also have our signature porceda, which is the rolled pork belly, seasoned and cooked over high heat and cooked for a long period of time to get CRIsp on the outside and tender on the inside, as well as a local ham.”

She adds that her store has something for people of all cultures. For Frederico Ribigini, the place is a taste of home.

"For me it's amazing because, as I am from Umbria, from Italy. They have the Colomba. That is a classic cake in Italy. They have Buona di Pasqua, the chocolate eggs. Yes, here, you can definitely you can find a lot of gifts to give for Pasqua."

Colomba cake

Menard says those who do not like to cook can eat a daytime Easter meal at Via Umbria.

"On Easter we have some extra special family-style appetizers including a fresh farro salad and asparagus salad. And, one of the entrees features a lamb ragu and, of course, for dessert we are going to have an Umbrian Ciaramicola."

This ring-shaped cake has a sweet topping made from whipped sugar and egg whites. Historians say that this cake plays an important part in an ancient Umbrian tradition. Young women old enough for marriage bake this cake for the person they love on Easter Sunday.

I’m Anna Matteo.

Mariama Diallo reported this story for VOA News from Washington. Anna Matteo adapted it for Learning English. Caty Weaver edited the story.


Words in This Story

decorationn. something that is added to something else to make it more attractive

floraladj. of or relating to flowers

scriptn. a type of handwriting in which all the letters in a word are connected to each other

yeastn. a type of fungus that is used in making alcoholic drinks (such as beer and wine) and in baking to help make dough rise

texturen. the way that something feels when you touch it

signatureadj. something (such as a quality or feature) that is closely associated with someone or something

crispyadj. having a pleasantly thin and crisp outer layer

tenderadj. easy to chew or bite : not tough

classicadj. used to describe something that has been popular for a long time

appetizern. a small dish of food served before the main part of a meal

entreen. the main dish of a meal especially in a restaurant

ragun. a hearty, seasoned Italian sauce of meat and tomatoes that is used chiefly in pasta dishes and that is typically made with ground beef, tomatoes, and finely chopped onions, celery, and carrots

dessertn. sweet food eaten after the main part of a meal

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