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Italian Easter Pie: Wherefore Art Thou in Houston?

Italian Easter Pie
Italian Easter Pie
Photo courtesy of ouritaliankitchen

For me there are two unfortunate realities of being an "adult" and spending Easter away from my extended family. First, if I want an Easter basket, I have to make my own. (Which I have done and will do this year because I have no shame.)

Second, I will not be able to feast on the fabulous Italian Easter pies made in Hazleton, Pennsylvania. Easter Pie (or "pizzagaina" as we guidos like to call it) combines everything you're supposed to have deprived yourself of during Lent into one deep-dish crust. The exact proportion of fillings varies, but tradition dictates at minimum many, many eggs, multiple meats (ham, salami, pepperoni, mortadella, etc.) and an assload of cheeses (note the plural: we're talking ricotta, parmesan, provolone, mascapone).

In the past, I've begged my mom to send me a pie, but she has rightly warned me that soft cheeses, egg and milk do not travel well and I might very well find myself spending Easter in the bathroom. The alternative, of course, is that I make my own.

Truth be told, I am 1) lazy and 2) intimidated by the preparation despite extremely helpful recipes with detailed instructions like this one. I also suspect that it may actually be cheaper for me to buy an Easter pie than to purchase all individual ingredients.

This year, however, I am going to take a stab at making pizzagaina. It won't be nearly as good as those produced by the lovely little old Italian ladies of Hazleton, but at least the start of my own tradition. Worst-case scenario, my Easter Pie is completely inedible, and if that comes to pass, I would like to drown my sorrows in a store-bought version.

Italian Americans of Houston, do you have any leads on bakeries, delis or restaurants that proffer pizzagaina this time of year? Or maybe some clandestine kitchens that would sell me one on the black market?



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