Sunday, March 16, 2014

What? You haven't started saving those onion skins yet?

"Albanian peoples, good peoples; herd sheep on top of mountain; good peoples." . . . Peter (quoting his Albanian friend who had a shop in Newtonville Square . . . ) 

Newtonville Square, several doors down from where these words were first spoken many years ago, Marash Girl met a young man -- Albanian, as it turned out -- A "good people" with a wonderful sense of humor.  When Marash Girl started comparing notes (Easter traditions), she learned that the Albanians also use onion skins to color their Easter eggs (see Marash Girl  but that the young man from Albania now living in Newtonville has been using store bought red dye to color Easter eggs with his son.  "Why?" Marash Girl asked him.  He had no answer, really, but hopefully Marash Girl convinced him to try the traditional Armenian (and, as it turned out, Albanian) custom for coloring Easter eggs using onion skins, a natural dye, rather than the artificial store bought red dye.

Strangely enough, it was that very evening that Marash Girl had a conversation with her Iranian Armenian friends who admitted that they colored Easter eggs with store-bought dye; in fact, they knew nothing about the (apparently)  Western Armenian tradition of coloring Easter eggs with onion skins.  With red onion skins? her friend asked.  No, Marash Girl assured her; with the common brown skinned onions -- all those skins that annoy most cooks as they peel their onions, are skins to be treasured for that moment before Easter, called Good Friday, when we remember the blood shed on the cross;  and believe it or not, those onion skins work their magic, and because they're a natural dye, you can even eat those hard-boiled Easter eggs after they've been colored, and on Easter day, cracked, when children of Armenian extraction joyfully "break open the tomb".


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