Saturday, March 26, 2016

Do you have your Butter Lamb for Easter?

Your Easter dinner just isn't complete without a butter lamb on your table.
Butter lambs are practically unique to Western New York, which helps explain why we all need one, whether we’re Polish or not, and why expats thank God that Wegmans carries them. The only place in the world that makes this whimsical confection, to anyone’s knowledge, is Camellia Meats. Camellia, whose stand sits at the southeast corner of the Broadway Market, received the butter lamb business from the hallowed hands of Malczewski Poultry, famous for making the lambs for decades.

“He came to us because of our Polish heritage. Being on the East Side of Buffalo since the 1930s, we had the background already. He helped us out the first year, getting everything together. The year 2012 was our first Easter. It was cool because I was excited, I was a little younger – I’m 26 – and my dad put me in charge when it came to making them. It was fun for me, ’cause I grew up with the butter lamb. It was fun to be a part of it.”

Twenty tons of butter every year, Cichoki estimated, go into fattening those butter lambs. They are molded at Camellia’s Genesee Street facility. Pastry artists apply the butter curls that make the wool.

Leading the parade of butter lambs for sale is the giant $16.99 “head-turned” lamb, its face turned adorably toward you. Then there’s the $13.99 “straight-faced” lamb, looking straight ahead. And so on, down to the wee quarter-pounder in its iconic blue and white box.

Each lamb’s rear bears a flag reading “Alleluia.” Around each lamb’s neck is a ribbon, either red or orchid.

“The red is traditional because of the Blood of Christ,” Cichoki said. “The orchid was introduced by Dorothy (Malczewski) because it was her favorite color.”

Whichever color you choose, take care not to toss it if, emulating the faithful, you put your butter lamb in your Easter basket and bring it to a priest to get it blessed.

“If you take it to get it blessed, you have to burn the ribbon,”
If your market doesn't carry butter lambs, you need to ask why.


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