Tomorrow is Palm Sunday – the day Jesus arrived to a triumphant reception in the holy city of Jerusalem.
Branches from palm trees were laid on the ground before him, hence the name.
The day is marked in churches across the world on the Sunday before Easter Day.
It’s also known as Passion Sunday and in some traditions, Fig Sunday.
The fig association has a number of theories. Some say Jesus sustained himself on the way to Jerusalem by eating these lush fruits, while others say he cursed the fig tree on the way. A bible story tells of Zaccheus climbing a fig tree to catch a glimpse of Jesus as he passed by.
Whatever the origin, there are many recipes using them to celebrate the day.
In the North of England a figgy pudding, similar to Christmas pudding, is made with dried fruit, suet and eggs. In Wales, Palm Sunday is known as Flower Sunday in reference to the blossoms that bloom on the tree at this time of year. You can get imported fresh figs at this time of year and they’re perfect on their own or with sharp cheese and a drizzle of honey.
When I was growing up figs meant fig roll biscuits. They were a staple, along with ginger nuts, when I went to my grandparent’s house outside Cookstown. Crispy biscuit surrounding a sweet, chewy filling. I actually felt very grown up eating them.
My first recipe takes inspiration from fig rolls in a thumb print biscuit. Buttery biscuit dough is rolled, flattened and an indent placed in the middle filled with spiced dried figs. You need to worry about how to get the fig into the fig roll this way.
In Greece the Lenten fast is broken with the eating of salt cod known as balkallaros. Salting fish has been a traditional way of preserving it for centuries across the globe. In Northern Ireland we salted ling and not the more ubiquitous cod. It’s a food that’s been dying out in recent times but one we should keep alive.
I buy salt ling from Gareth the fishmonger, who comes to Portrush every Thursday and Ballymoney on a Friday. You could ask your local fishmonger, wherever you live,to source salt ling for you. Alternatively make the trip to the lovely North Coast instead.
My other recipe is for salt ling fritters. As the name suggests you’ll need to soak the fish in cold water overnight and change the water a couple of times. The ling is cooked gently and flaked into a potato mixture and fried until golden and crisp. Eat them hot dipped into the lemon mayonnaise recipe I’ve included. A perfect light lunch for Palm Sunday.