Saturday, March 31, 2012

Anna Sultana's Kwarezimal and Figolli - part 2 - Margaret Ullrich

continued from part 1

     When I was seven I had to follow the Church's rules during Lent.  I ate kwarezimal, an almond cookie iced with honey and chopped pistacchio nuts.  Ma said we could eat it during Lent because it didn't have any fats or eggs.  

     For Maundy Thursday Ma baked bread in the form of a ring.  It was sprinkled with sesame seeds and pierced with roasted almonds.  Our Easter dinner menu was the same as it had been in Corona.  But Ma baked a Figolli, a Maltese sweet bread with a marzipan filling instead of a Colomba di Pasqua. 

     A figolli is harder to make than a colomba.  The dough was rolled about one cm thick.  Then Ma cut the dough into pairs of figolla with a figolla cutter.  It looked like a large J, but the stick part ended in a fish's tail.  On one side of a figolla she put jam and marzipan.  Then she covered it with the identical shape as if she was making a sandwich.  After the figolli had been baked and cooled they were covered with colored icing and piped royal icing.  Then an Easter egg was placed on top of each figolli.  For the final touch a cardboard woman's face was inserted into the mound of the J.  

     The odd thing about Ma's figolli was that it was a mermaid.  I asked Ma why a mermaid and not a dove and she said, "I don't know.  It's our tradition."  Well, you can't argue with tradition.  

     In College Point, as Easter approached, the bakeries filled with cross buns, pretzels, braided almond loaves, Easter cookies and marzipan treats.  There were also decorated sugar Easter eggs which had a hole in one end.  When we looked into the hole we could see tiny bunny villages.  Ma knew about the cross buns.  Since Malta was part of the British Empire she had eaten them in Malta, too. 
     We brought samples of our mothers' baking to school.  There were lots of pretzels.  Since they didn't have any fats or eggs, they could be eaten during Lent.  I brought kwarezimal.  After I explained that the almond cookies didn't have any fats or eggs my friends agreed to try them.  I liked the braided loaves which were spread with almond paste.  They reminded me of Colomba di Pasqua.  

Please continue to part 3 -
it's about The Great Figolli Fight - when my Sicilian Aunt Dina and my Maltese Aunt Demi had a huge fight about the proper bread to serve for Easter.
Of course, Ma solved the problem!

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