Celebrating Easter in Spain with the Local Foods
Easter in Spain is one of the biggest holidays of the year, and one of the yummiest. Here and all throughout Spain, the Spanish people love to make a big deal out of it and that means enjoying a lot of great food. Where some cultures celebrate Easter with one day, Spain celebrates it with an entire week, known as Semana Santa (Holy Week). The different areas of Spain also have varying traditions distinct to their history and their local foods.
This year we spent our Semana Santa at our home-sweet-home of Denia in the region of Valencia. There can be so many details to Easter here, so we focused on what we experienced of some of the local foods for celebrating Easter in Spain.
First Things First – Setting Up for Easter in Spain
Our Valencia friend Angels taught us all about the ‘merienda’. Now, before you go translate that, know that we already tried. It’s more officially ‘coma merienda’ which informally means eat. It’s a phrase they use that refers to having a snack, or like tea-time. We previously misspelled it here and appreciate our good friend Jeanne letting us know of the correct word.
Along with our friend Neil, we all gathered at our new apartment in Denia and each brought some goodies. Angels brought most of the very traditional items and explained that usually this is done on the actual day of Easter Sunday (called Pascua in Spanish), but we decided to do it on Good Friday, just before Easter.
And remember that Easter here in Spain starts with Semana Santa (Holy Week), which kicks off the weekend before Easter.
Oh-So-Good, Savory & Sweet for a Yummy Easter in Spain
What Angels brought were three scrumptious treats that are very traditional to the Valencia Region. We started with the panquemado. This super light and airy bread is more like a pastry, with a light dusting of sugar and egg whites baked onto the top for the ‘burnt’ effect. Thus its name, which literally means ‘burnt bread’.
Not only was this mountain of a loaf gorgeous, it was delicious and easy to eat a lot of. The way to eat it was with savory and with sweet. So first we had it with longaniza, a dry sausage typical in the Valencia Region. Year-round it’s referred to as ‘longaniza seca’ and at Easter it’s called ‘longaniza de Pascua’. Cutting this into short sticks, we wrapped chunks of the panquemado around it and devoured it like a mini hotdog. But it was far more delicious than a regular hotdog, at least if you like sweet and savory combined, like we do.
Then we had the sweet version of panquemado which was dipping chunks of it into homemade hot chocolate. Oh my! So amazingly good. Take note that hot chocolate in Spain is also distinct from other cultures. It’s not watery or thin like a drink. It’s thick and more like a pudding that you while you can drink it, you can also eat with a spoon. We were in charge of making the hot chocolate and Eric gets to take home the credit for how well he did. It was perfect and divine.
And if you thought we were done, think again. Now it was time for the cocas, which are also referred to as ‘tortas‘. Angels really spoiled us and brought two different kinds. Both were dulce (sweet), with one of nuts and raisins (nuezes y pasas) and the other one of nuts and chocolate chunks. These were enjoyed with mistela, the sweet dessert wine made from the moscatel grapes in Valencia. Neil had brought a nice bottle of it that was local to our area of Valencia.
Funnily enough, it was the two ladies, Angels and Amalia (both quite petite), who polished off their entire ‘tazas de chocolate’ (mugs of hot chocolate). The panquemado didn’t stand a chance either. By the end of the night, it was all gone between the four of us.
A Healthy Final Meal for Easter in Spain
What seemed like a food marathon continued into the next day. On Saturday we all went to Angel’s home for lunch. She made homemade ‘guiso’ (stew). A Pascua tradition for devote Catholics is that they don’t eat meat during lent, thus where this stew of vegetables comes from. This one also came accompanied with ‘albondigas de bacalao’, which are meatballs of cod fish. She even made some of the bacalao as croquetas which Amalia really loved (she’s a croqueta fiend).
We enjoyed this meal so much that, as you can tell, we forgot to take any photos. You’ll have to use your imagination but at least know it was delicious and quite healthy.
What’s your experience with Easter in Spain?
These were the main food traditions we enjoyed this year that are specific to Easter in Denia, Spain. There’s a lot more though. Which ones do you know of? Have you ever celebrated Easter in Spain and exactly where? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below. And we hope you had a wonderful Easter, wherever you were.
Written by Amalia & Eric
Founders & Producers of Move to Traveling
We’re Amalia and Eric – a traveling couple who are living a traveling lifestyle. Do you love to travel? Perfect! Come along…