Like most people we have a lot of special foods we like to have at certain times of the year. Our parish used to have cannoli sale fundraiser every year at Easter. These were real cannolis, made by an older Italian couple. We usually didn’t have cannolis any other time of year, so they became known as an Easter treat around here. So much so that when I once ordered a cannoli for dessert at some other time of the year, my kids were scandalized. ”Papa! Cannolis are for Easter!”
Sadly, since last year we have not been able to have the cannoli sale. I looked into buying them from reputable bakery, but the cost was more than double what we paid at the church sale. We had to go without. But I am a bit of DIYer so this year I took matters into my own hands. I decided to make the shells on Palm Sunday, and make the filling Holy Saturday. I bought some cannoli rolls from Amazon, and thought, “how hard can it be? You make some dough, wrap it around the roll, dunk it in the oil. Boom! Homemade cannoli shells.”
Turns out you have to be really careful with the oil temperature. These things burned pretty much instantly when the oil temperature was above the recommended temp. The next batch came out better, but they all came loose from the roll, and ended up as slightly curved circles. Whoops, I forgot you are supposed to use milk or egg to press them together at the top. At least those ones are still edible. Most of the rest came out fine, so now we have about twenty six cannoli shells, included a batch of gluten free shells I made for my wife.
So, it was a bit of pain, but I think well worth it. Family traditions are important to maintain, especially to children (and maybe to adults more than we realize). All the better if the tradition involves family making the food together. I need not repeat the many wonderful things that have been written about how important food is to our families and relationships. Obviously we can’t allow holy days to become all about the food, or other externals (as has happened so much to Christmas). But I believe when these external customs are observed in their proper relation to the holy days, they help water the seed of faith that we are planting in our children.
And for different kind of preparation, here is an excellent hymn for passiontide that stumbled on at youtube.