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Jewish Genealogy in Alsace and Lorraine

Easter Roots Hunt



Not long ago, we wrote of local words and traditions relating to Carnival that might help you to locate your ancestor's place of origin. Continuing in this service of providing culinary trails that may lead you to the ancestral home, we offer today more of the same, but in relation to Easter and the feast marking the end of Lent. Unsurprisingly, in France, as elsewhere, it has a lot to do with eggs.

Eggs were not permitted during Lent in the France of long ago (except on the one very convenient day of Mi-Carême) but they were, of course, saved. So, by the time Lent was over, each home had an egg mountain that would soon begin to smell. Thus: a feast menu heavily laden with egg dishes, each region having its own variation of and words for what was essentially the same dish - an omelette. The Easter omelette is normally eaten on Easter Sunday morning, sometimes before sunrise, to se décarêmer -- to end the fast of Lent. May the following help you to find your family's roots in France:

  • In Rousillon, the sunrise omelette is called the ribote d'oeufs de Pâques, the same omelette served with the main meal of the day is called a Truyatada
  • Down in the Béarn, in the Pyrénées, it is the omelette au millassou, an omelette served with pork casings stuffed with corn bread
  • In the Auvergne, the omelette is called simply la Pascade or la Pachade
  • In Upper Normandy, it is not the name but the way it is served: cooked in beechnut oil; tradition also included a vile concoction of jellied pork and hard-boiled eggs (surely, if your family has a recipe for that, Upper Normandy is your ancestor's home)

Various types of egg bread for Easter, or brioches, were called:

  • Millassou made with corn flour, in Sarlat
  • Campanile in Corsica
  • Brassadeû and in the shape of a ring in Vaucluse; children put them on their arms
  • Feretra, offered on Easter Monday by the men of Toulouse to the women they were wooing
  • l'Agneau Pascal in Alsace was a cake in the shape of a lamb

Look, look look, through the old letters, diaries and papers of your French ancestors for these words or recipes and perhaps you will have a voilà experience!

©2013 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy