Did you say pickled fish on a hot cross bun?

With Easter comes many traditions. I recall a few years back around Easter time we were surprised to get pickled fish and hot cross buns for lunch at work. A colleague and I were the only ones who had never had this apparent ‘popular Capetonian Easter meal’ before but we were eager (and a bit nervous) to try it out.

The pickled fish is usually Kabeljou, Yellowtail, or actually any other firm-fleshed white fish prepared with onions, turmeric, salt, curry powder and most importantly, vinegar.

I eventually got to the question of why people in Cape Town eat pickled fish over Easter. I  had never heard about this odd meal before I set foot here in the Mother City. It was quite a conversation and it was generally thought that it was a Christian tradition. I wasn’t quite convinced and, as we all know, when in doubt…Google.

Image credit: www.dining-out.co.za

But what a fail! No one seems to know for sure where this tradition came from. Most people have some kind of suspicion or opinion but few know for sure.

Some believe it’s in remembrance of Jesus who ate broiled fish after he rose from the dead. Others mean it’s purely an Easter family tradition – passed on from generation to generation. Still others (mostly Catholics), consider eating meat on Good Friday as “unholy” – that’s why they eat fish instead.

Another legend has it that the combination of the hot cross buns and pickled fish began many years ago in District Six in Cape Town where different people from different backgrounds and religions ended up living in close community – eating and sharing and simply doing life together.

Turns out Google doesn’t know everything huh? Or maybe I don’t have very good Googling skills… Surely someone out there on the interwebs has to know the origin of this tradition?

Have you tried pickled fish on a hot cross bun before? Do you know the origin of this tradition? 

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