Friday, 25 March 2016


It's Easter, and yet again it's on a different date. But that date formula was decided almost 1700 years ago, at the Council of Nicea.

They took March 21st as being the Vernal Equinox, and decided that Easter Sunday would be the first Sunday, after the first full moon after the equinox. It is, of course, of religious significance. It is thought that Jesus was crucified around the time of the Jewish Passover, which is on the first full moon after the equinox. So, that's how we have decided the date of Easter ever since the year 325.

The name Easter actually comes from ancient Egypt, named after the goddess of fertility, Astarta (I'm sensing an egg connection here!), and that became Ostara in old English, after she was adopted as an Anglo-Saxon goddess. Quite how we then linked it with you know who being nailed up and then resurrected beats me (get it, beats, as in eggs? Oh, never mind). 

A holiday for most, which makes where I live, right by the sea, a lot busier. Though I have time off teaching film at the academy, I am deep in the throes of editing during every available minute, as the deadline for submission of the kids films looms. So time is precious.

No time for egg rolling here.

Egg eating though fits in. My friend John celebrated his 60th birthday yesterday, and so we met up for Eggs Benedict. This is my favourite breakfast treat, at my favourite restaurant in Edinburgh, Browns.

Eggs Benedict got its name way back in 1894 at the Waldorf Hotel in New York City. Lemuel Benedict, a Wall Street broker, nursing a brutal hangover, went for breakfast at the Waldorf. He ordered hot buttered toast, crisp bacon, two poached eggs and a "hooker" of hollandaise sauce.

Thanks Lemuel. Yum.

Hollandaise sauce, though literally meaning "from Holland", actually started off named after a small town in Normandy, and was called Sauce Isigny. The area was known for its butter (today Normandy is known as the cream capital of France). It became known as Hollandaise during World War I, when butter production stopped in France and was imported "from Holland".

Then there's the eggs. Back in the 1500s two names were fought over for that humble little oval item. One was "eye," the other "egg". Egg won of course, which is derived from the old Norse. Imagine ordering two poached eyes!

So Mr Benedict actual ordered Sauce Isginy, not Hollandaise Sauce, as it would not get that name for another 30 years. However, he was the first to put the sauce, pork, toast and eggs all together.

But which came first, the chicken or the egg?

No comments: