Sunday, 5 May 2013

Day 49: Pascha Sunday - Christ is Risen! Christos Anesti! Χριστός Ανέστη! May 5, 2013

Christ is Risen!  Χριστός  Ανέστη!
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As our Greek Orthodox family gathered at church last night to proclaim that He is Truly Risen, we also announced the end of the Great Fast of this Lenten season.  After church, we enjoyed our mageritsa (see our entry from last year), we played the egg-cracking game, and we got to sleep so we could have the energy to spend our Sunday with family, friends, and new friends celebrating this Glorious day.

Cousin B, as you read yesterday, had invited us to share in the roasted lamb feast at his house.  Of course, we were fascinated with learning how to tie up the lamb, and we were excited in the prospect of eating the said lamb.  Well, today was the day.  Today, with the weather being a comfortably warm 21° C (70° F), it was perfect weather to have a barbecue in Toronto, Canada.  Family and friends gathered and stood in awe of the roasting  lamb.  And, with Cousin B's father-in-law being a traditionalist, we watched many of the men take turns rotate the handle of the spit at a certain rate to cook the lamb to perfection.  Yes, everyone who got near the grill had a turn (get it?-had a turn!)!

What we learned today was that turning the lamb by hand is a lot of work!  It is strenuous on the upper arm muscles.  Maybe that is why people take turns.  We also learned that the lamb must continuously move because it will burn in one place, and stay raw in others unless the heat is fully distributed across the animal.  Lastly, we learned that one 30-pound lamb (about 13.5 kg) will feed about 35 people (adults and children), and having a second lamb is a good idea -- because Greeks and non-Greeks DO eat differently.  So, if your crowd is mostly Greek, have a second lamb!  If not, well, you decide if you want leftovers or if you know any Greeks...

The fire was started with that pile of logs (see yesterday's entry), and then, the wood charcoal bricks went on the fire.  That made a long lasting fire.  We did, however, add more charcoal for the second lamb.  The lamb was suspended over the fire, using one of the three pole positions on the souvla (the skewer), and a lid was added to deflect heat onto the animal.  The lid is removed about half way through the cooking so that the various cooks could start basting the lamb.  The basting liquid was traditional Greek "ladorigani" (olive oil, lemon juice, oregano, salt) and was generously brushed all over the turning lamb from head to tail and back to the head.

After a couple of hours rotating over the charcoals, the lamb skin became crunchy and the inside was dripping juices all over the fire. The smell was incredible -- even several neighbours came by to say that they could smell the barbecue and were drawn there by the smell.  And, when the lamb was done cooking, everyone anxiously approached the grill, ready to eat.

The cooks checked for the doneness by poking a knife around the joints of the legs and shoulders, and the easier the knife went into the meat, the more done it was.  We also saw the meat pulling away from the bones, but all the wires and U-clamps did the job of holding the lamb snugly on the spit.  So, using that same knife and a pair of tongs, pieces of meat were nudged off the carcass and into the aluminum pan for serving.  Some  people were not going to wait for the pan to be carried to the serving table, and had samples delivered right to their hands!  Lucky tasters...   Everyone at Cousin B's house enjoyed the lamb, some with seconds, and thirds (throughout the day over 70 people partook of the two lambs - mostly family with a few neighbours and colleagues - and even a cycling coach with his wonderful wife).

One of the cooks cracked open the lamb's head and shared the brains with anyone who would taste.  We thought it was delicious -- like a peppery pate.  Who knew?

The lamb was moist and absolutely delicious - with crispy skin to boot!
When the lunch was over, there was nothing left on the bones.  The skeleton of the lamb was left suspended over the grill.  To us, that was an invitation to pick at the bones and find the little gems of meat tucked in between the bones.  Several family members and neighbours joined in that activity!  But, the lamb was gone.  Not just the first one, either -- both! Two lambs for about 70 people was just enough.  This was clearly a feast day!

Not much remains from the second lamb. They really were very tasty!

In celebrating this Feast Day, we did the feasting for the day.  It was a great day to announce and share in the joy of Christ's Resurrection.  We hope that you were able to celebrate in the glory of the day, and with a glorious day.

This marks the end of this year's Great Lent Gourmet entries. It has been a great honour to have shared our Great Lent experiences over the course of the past 49 days. We have had many thousands of visitors from over 75 countries from six continents. We genuinely appreciate the wonderful feedback from the new friends who have written us.

God bless you all!

The Great Lent Gourmet team.

YouTube - Christos Santikai (Greece) - Christos anesti