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Monday, April 2, 2018

Zamora's Medieval Treasures: Holy Week 2018

Easter Sunday in Zamora
Photo 2018 José Pablo Palencia Morchón
All year, I was puzzled as to why Spring Break here in Zamora occurs after Easter. The week before, Holy Week, is so full of activities, I thought, why wouldn't people focus on them rather than going to school? It turns out, they did just that, and now I fully understand: we all need this week of vacation to recover from Holy Week!

It was the best Easter of my life, unlike anything I've ever experienced. I got swept up immediately, after my first procession, to a degree I never would've expected. I didn't think I could love Zamora any more than I already did, but as I learned from my husband, love is infinite. My love for Zamora kept growing with the sense of community, the excitement, the beauty, and the deliciousness. 

Below, highlights of a mind-blowing week in pictures (click the F icons to go to the original posts) and videos (click play), and to conclude, a tempting look at some of the special foods of Zamoran Holy Week. As you'll see in the photos and videos, much of it has a strong medieval flair, so even though it happened this week, I'm counting it as a time-travel experience and one of Zamora's medieval treasures.

March 22 - Passion Thursday

March 23 - Friday of Sorrows

The first full, dressed up procession of Holy Week on the Friday of Sorrows takes the Cristo del Espiritu Santo, which is the oldest image to be taken out in procession, from the thirteenth century,  and therefore my favorite, from Espiritu Santo to the Cathedral and back again. Scroll to 15:45 to hear the wonderful chorus!

March 24 - Passion Saturday

March 25 - Palm Sunday

March 26 - Holy Monday

Elsewhere in Zamora, possibly the best vocal experience of Holy Week, the Brotherhood of the Christ of the Good Death sings "Jerusalem, Jerusalem" in the Plaza de Santa Lucia on Holy Monday night. Forward to -19:31 to listen.

March 27- Holy Tuesday

Elsewhere on Holy Tuesday: Christ of the Via Crucis and Our Lady of Esperanza meet and say farewell before continuing to their separate churches. Scroll to -11:11 for the big action.

March 28 - Holy Wednesday

March 29 - Holy Thursday

March 30 - Holy Friday

March 31 - Holy Saturday

April 1 - Easter Sunday

How can anyone keep going like this for more than a week? The answer lies at least partly in the food of Holy Week.

These beauties are aceitadas, roughly translated as "oilies." Crisp and toasty, a beautiful balance of sweet and hearty, with the welcome presence of the taste of olive oil, somehow never overwhelming, I had these cookies at school before vacation, at a friend's house while not gawking from the balcony, and finally bought this box at La Tahona del Pan on Amargura Street.

For years, I'd been hearing about torrijas, a special Easter food Spanish people look forward to all year. I looked all over Zamora for a bar or a bakery that could make them for me, but ended up having to use a recipe and make them at home. It's not a service-industry food. Easter Sunday, I had my special bread and the other ingredients, and drum roll please...

They're pretty much French toast. This bread had cinnamon and lemon juice already. I soaked the slices in milk (probably a way to moisten old, hard Spanish loaves), then bathed them in egg, and fried them up with olive oil, as you do in Spain, and they turned out delightful. Lots of pots and pans to wash for breakfast, though.

Finally, how does a Brother or Sister of the Congregation of Jesus the Nazarene hold up for six or seven hours of procession on the morning of Holy Friday starting at 5 a.m.? By taking a break at the Avenue of the Three Crosses that includes sopa de ajo (my favorite, wonderfully simple Castilian garlic soup) and something called dos y pingada, which sounds a lot like a cuss word. The dos are two eggs, and the pingada is rustic toasted bread and at least three different kinds of pork, to include ham, loin steak, chorizo, bacon, anything you can think of, depending on which restaurant you end up at. Everyone, even people not in that brotherhood, likes to get in on the dos y pingada action around Easter.

Here is the dos y pingada I ended up with at Cafe Brasilia on the Avenue of the Three Crosses: eggs, toast, ham, loin, and morcilla (black pudding). As emotionally drained as I was after watching the final procession on Easter Sunday, after eating this dish, I could've kept going for another week. 

I will never forget my first Holy Week. Thanks for coming along with me!