On the Sunday before his crucifixion, Jesus arrived in the city of Jerusalem and was mobbed by his many followers.
They spread branches from palm trees on the road as he approached, to pave his way. On Sunday, 9th April churches across the world observe Palm Sunday.
It’s the last Sunday in Lent and is also known as Passion Sunday and palm branches are woven into crosses to distribute to congregations.
Like Easter Sunday, there are many food traditions associated with this sacred day.
One of the best known is the eating of Pax cakes.
In 1570 a local Hereford landowner, Lady Scudamore, distributed these cakes, after the morning service on Palm Sunday, their name derived from the Latin word for peace, to signify reconciliation and goodwill.
In the nineteenth century farmers provided local ale and cider to accompany the confections.
The custom lapsed in the early twentieth century but has since been revived. Vicars hand out the cakes after the service with the blessing “Peace and goodwill”.
Recipes vary from some similar to griddle pancakes to those using almonds and egg whites. In all cases they would have been stamped with a lamb shape to represent the Lamb of God.
Peas or carlings were eaten in the North of England and Scotland.
In England Palm Sunday became known as Carling Sunday and in Scotland it was called Car Sunday.
Recipes varied in regions but pea soup or pease porridge were commonly eaten.
This custom is said to stem from pilgrims having a hard pea in their shoe, as a mark of penance during lent, and eating a pea based dish marked the end of this torture!
Carlin peas are difficult to source here but you can order them on line.
For my first recipe I’ve substituted chickpeas in a salad with lentils and wild garlic. Wild garlic is in full swing at the moment and we should make the most of this free treasure.
In Greece the Lenten fast is broken on Palm Sunday with the eating of salt cod known as bakallaros, while in Italy fresh pasta is eaten with sugo, breadcrumbs and nuts.
My other recipe is for that other Easter staple – eggs. Scallion pancakes are topped with fried eggs, a spiced hazelnut mixture called dukkah and some feta and black pepper dressing. Guaranteed to pep up your morning.
The foods associated with Palm Sunday lack the decadence of the end of Lenten feasting associated with Easter Sunday itself, but are steeped in history nonetheless.