(NPR) - Easter is associated with currant-studded hot-cross buns and chocolatey eggs – foods that symbolize rebirth and renewal. But what about Judas cake? Or Judas beer? Or Judas bread?Complete article here.
Judas Iscariot, the archvillain of Christianity who betrayed Jesus with a kiss, has an intriguing range of food and drink named after him – some traditionally consumed in the days leading up to Easter.
Some of Judas' namesake foodstuffs, like the Judas fig, were so christened thanks to dark medieval depictions, while others, like the fiery Judas ketchup and the ultrastrong Judas ale, have more playful contemporary roots. What binds them, though, is their association with blood and death and treachery.
"Judas is mentioned 22 times across the four Gospels, but the only parts where he plays a key role are the Last Supper and at the Garden of Gethsemane, where he betrays Christ," says Peter Stanford, author of Judas: The Most Hated Name in History. "Judas' name has become easy shorthand for treachery. Take, for instance, the Judas Blond, a popular Belgian beer which my publishers gave me when the book was published. It looks very pale and weak, but it's actually quite strong, so it's treacherously hiding its strength."
In his book, Stanford, who is British, points to the popular English Easter confection called simnel cake (from the Latin for "fine flour"), which is sometimes referred to as Judas cake.
"It's a delicious fruit cake with layers of marzipan, and it dates back to the 13th century," he says. "In the Victorian era, it was decorated with a circle of 11 marzipan balls to represent the apostles, sans Judas, of course. There was a double space left blank where the Judas ball is meant to be."
In recent years, bakers who feel that Judas has been punished enough have begun to boldly place a 12th ball on their simnel cakes. This act has opened them to charges of moral equivalence.
But Stanford, who feels Judas has gotten a raw deal, is all approval.
"If you read Matthew's Gospel – and Matthew is the only one who gives us the detail of the 30 pieces of silver – he shows Judas feeling remorseful and going back to the temple to give the money back to the high priests," Stanford says. "He wants to make atonement, and he is so guilt-ridden that he hangs himself. So he has paid his dues. On a theological level, too, if you believe God is all-powerful and that he sent his son to earth to be killed as part of a divine plan, the fact that Judas betrayed Jesus, unpleasant as it might be, is simply Judas doing God's work. So, yes, he deserves his marzipan ball."
Others would agree. A few years ago, Peter's Europa House, an upscale restaurant in Shohola, Pa., introduced an Easter-themed menu with dishes named after the 12 apostles. Along with Matthew's Mozzarella, Bartholomew's Surf & Turf and Philip's Shrimp Cocktail, it has offered patrons a Judas Casserole and Judas' Chicken.
"I included Judas because he was one of the apostles," says owner Peter Jajcay. "My personal belief is that he was one of the strongest apostles, which is why I didn't want to leave him out. To be able to betray Jesus you have to be very strong. And, no, I've never had any negative feedback from my customers."
The story of Judas' hanging spawned a pretty Czech Easter bun called the Judas rope. These plaited buns – called Jidáše in the plural – are made with flour, butter, milk and egg yolks, and are traditionally served along with honey for breakfast on Maundy Thursday to commemorate the Last Supper...