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Easter Cheese, Please.

Spring has finally sprung, although if you’re in North America you probably didn’t notice because it’s basically been July since January over here. But now the flowers are mandated, not given worried looks. Traditionally, around this time of year, we unthaw and prepare to complain about how hot it is, but since we’ve already forgotten what snow looks like we’re going to have to find some other traditions. In America, we’ve spent all winter upset with football, bored with basketball because Steph Curry broke it, and actively not caring about hockey, so we’re ready for the sweet relief baseball brings us. Half the nation is waiting with bated breath to compare their off-season gut growth to Big Papi’s, and soon the other half will be waiting with similar breathing patterns in a beer or bathroom line at your local stadium. Besides Opening Day, though, we’ve got that one holiday started by the rabbit in a hat called National Stage Magician’s Appreciation Day! Just kidding, it’s called Easter, and it’s about Jesus.

Easter celebrates Christ’s ascension to Heaven after Pontius Pilate’s historically bad move, and in more recent times marks the end of Lent by way of a moveable feast. In Eastern Europe, Easter is hugely important. A majority of the population of countries like Poland, the Czech Republic, Russia, and Ukraine are either Catholic or Orthodox, neither of which were ever really known for skimping on the feasts. It also marks the arrival of spring for these countries, which in olden times meant fresh food again and freedom from the scourge of cold-weather illnesses. And how did they celebrate? Cheesemaking!

Yes, they made a variation of the traditional farmer’s cheese especially for the big day, and the good news is you can too!

Easter? More like Cheeaster, amirite guys?   Photo Credit: The Duquesne Hunky
Easter? More like Ch-Easter, amirite guys?
Photo Credit: The Duquesne Hunky

In Poland it’s known as Hrudka, in Ukraine as Syrnyk, and in the Czech Republic as Sirecz. It’s served alongside traditional easter breads during the feast, and it’s is incredibly simple to make. The most basic recipe calls for nothing other than:

  • 1 quart milk
  • 12 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

Then all you have to do is heat the milk and add the rest. Cook on low heat and stir occasionally. The dairy will begin to separate from the water and, once it’s thick, pour it into cheesecloth and let it drain and congeal for about three hours. Then cool it, slice it, and eat it!

There are local variations, many of which have found their way on to the internet, so experimentation for the adventurous is also possible. It goes well with other feast foods like poppyseed rolls, kielbasa, and ground horseradish. To get really authentic, grab a bottle of Eastern European plum brandy, or Slivovitz, and celebrate in style!

Feature Photo Credit: Sira Amanwong + chuhail | Shutterstock

Brook O'Meara-Sayen

Brook O’Meara-Sayen is a journalism student at Emerson College forever on the hunt for that last ten minutes of sleep. In his spare time he enjoys reading, Merle Haggard, and spending Friday evenings trying to break his personal record for most cheddar eaten in one sitting.

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