Today is Easter for the Eastern Orthodox churches, or most of them at least. The Orthodox faith isn't the monolithic faith that the name would imply. Each ethnic group has its own church and some of them actually differ somewhat in practice and beliefs. K is Greek Orthodox, though, and that's what most people think of when they think of Orthodox Christianity, at least those people who know what that is, anyway. I'm still surprised when I meet people who have never heard of Orthodox Christianity, or at least aren't sure that Orthodox Christians worship Jesus.
I've never really been drawn to Orthodoxy. Before, there were too many integral parts of the religion that went steadfastly against many of my own relgious beliefs. Now, those differences don't really matter, but I'm not drawn to any church. Still, for the first couple of years I was with K, I looked forward to their Easter service. It starts late on the Saturday before Easter, at 11 p.m. Around midnight, they turn off the lights and the flame from a single candle spreads throughout the church, then we file outside, march around the parking lot and there are some other theatrical bits symbolizing the resurrection of Christ, then we go back into the church for a full divine liturgy that starts after midnight.
It was cool the first few times. In fact, if you've never experienced an Orthodox service, you really should go find the biggest, most lavish Orthodox church in your area and attend their Easter service before you die. It would be an experience for anyone, but I think it should be considered mandatory for anyone with a spiritual bent or who at least considers themself a Christian. The only problem is that after a while for me it just ended up just being long and really late at night. It was a bit of a struggle to make it through last night's 11 p.m.-2:40 a.m. stint in church, especially since the magic left for me a couple of years ago.
But, dammit, the magiritsa they serve in the social hall after the marathon midnight service makes it almost worth it. And for those of you interested in making this soup for yourself, here's a recipe that seemed closest to what they make at the church:
6 legs of lamb (What? Where are you going to find lamb offal in this part fo the world?)
2 cases of spring onions
1 doz. bunches of parsely
6-7lbs of butter
1 cup salt
1.5 cup pepper
15 lbs. of rice
6 bunches of fresh dill
5 lbs. plain flour
1 jar of chicken base (stock?)
1 qt lemon juice
2 stalks celery
Oil for sauteeing
Saturday morning: Using 2 large stock pots , boil 2 legs of lamb (debone first) per pot with celery and onions about two hours. Remove parsley and dill from stems; chop spring onions. Saute onions, parsley, and dill until onion is translucent; set aside. When lamb cools, dice and refrigerate. At 11:30 p.m. on Holy Saturday: Put lamb and onion mixture in broth and bring to a boil. Add salt and pepper. Add bottle of lemon juice, 1-2 heaping T of chicken base and 3.5 lb. of rice per pot. Make a roux of equal amounts of butter and flour; 1/2 lb. per pot, more if needed. Keep on low heat until served. Serves 300.
Now I just have figure out how to divide this recipe by at least thirty.