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Easter and Bratkartoffeln

Easter, for me, back in the Philippines, means observing my family’s Holy Week traditions.

Holy Thursday in Silay meant going to the San Diego Pro Cathedral and praying in the chapel situated at the backof the main church where the Blessed Sacrament would be displayed. We would then walk over to the plaza to get some balut for my dad and brothers. I never learned to eat balut.

On Good Friday, we would stay home and binge on Seventh Heaven.

We hardly left the house on Good Friday as we were told that if we ever got wounded, it will take forever to heal because Jesus is dead. So, we stayed put.

Black Saturday was for decorating Easter eggs. We wouldboil some eggs and spend an afternoon coloring them. My brother, Anton, always made the most beautiful ones. His Marvin the Martian Easter egg is still one of my favorites!

Easter Sunday meant getting up early to attend the 6 a.m. mass for the salubong between the Virgin Mary and her now risen son. As a kid, I hated those 6 a.m. masses as I would rather sleep, but now, I kind of miss that tradition. Then, after breakfast, our mom would send us to our rooms while she hides our decorated Easter eggs and some chocolate eggs in the garden. It was always fun searching for them. She would then make an egg salad with the hardboiled eggs and we would enjoy the chocolates.

In Germany and Switzerland, the Easter season starts together with spring. The shops fill with spring and Easter decorations – flowers of all kinds, varied bunny and chick decorations, eggs for hanging on trees, various kinds of dye to color eggs, baskets to put the eggs in…you know what I mean. Here, it is celebrated like Christmas! The kids get gifts, aside from an abundance of chocolates and sweets.

I was surprised the year I met my husband when he gave me a gift for Easter, and I didn’t have even one small chocolate bunny prepared. I felt bad, but I explained that it wasn’t a tradition for us to give gifts on Easter. Yes, we had Easter egg hunts, but that’s all I grew up with.

But he now gets his chocolate bunny. I learn quick!

And my girls now expect chocolates and gifts from their Oma (grandmother) and us on Easter. Becca, my 5-year-old is super excited for the Easter Bunny to come.

Bratkartoffeln und Wurst*

Then I can enjoy Bratkartoffeln made by my mother-in-law. She buys these potatoes from a local farmer that taste so good that I always devour a plate when set before me.

Bratkartoffeln simply means fried potatoes. As a potato lover, I love this use of leftover boiled potatoes. Germans eat a lot of potatoes, sometimes just boiled and salted, which is called Salzkartoffeln, and as any proper German Omaor mother over prepares, there will be leftovers. And the next days, these are given a new life as Bratkartoffeln.

It is an easy side dish to prepare, and if you are short on time or just plain lazy, just add a Spiegelei (fried egg, sunny side up) and it is a meal!

No recipe needed! A tip though, I found that a non-stick pan is best for this as the potatoes tend to stick to the pan. I suppose there are many variations to this, but the simplest is to fry cold boiled and sliced potatoes in butter until golden brown. But what I like to do is first fry a few slices of bacon, set that aside and chop. Add some butter to the rendered fat (because butter makes everything better!) and sauté some sliced onions. When the onions are softened, I then add the potatoes, season with salt and pepper, and pan fry until golden brown. Try not to disturb the potatoes for a few minutes before turning to ensure it browns properly. Add back the bacon, and if I have on hand, some chopped parsley. Fry and egg, and voila! Dinner is served.*

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