I don’t know why I felt compulsed to illustrate this recipe. I grew up having mucenici [mûtʃeniːʃɪ], every year for the 9th of March and still bake them here in Switzerland. So it’s nothing special, unless maybe you’re not used to the idea of food offering because that’s what they are, an ancient relic of a pre-christian celebration of time renewal and the beginning of a new year for a pastoral population that kept a tight grip on its magical patterns of thought.
When I was a child, my grandmother and my mother would bake each year on this day our New Year’s fortune pie. Only recently in my ethnological pursuits I found out this was customary for the entire region where I was born, as part of the time renewal ritual practices. People would bake a sweet bread where they would hide a silver coin and whoever found it would be lucky the year to come. In time this sweet bread was replaced by a sweet cheese pie.
One of the things I am grateful for this year is visiting Lithuania. We did it on a whim after I read Marija Gimbutas’s biography, she is a renowned Lithuanian archaeologist who loved her origins so much that I wanted to go there and see for myself what she was talking about.