WHEN ITALIAN EYES ARE SMILING

The Catholic calendar is chock-a-block with saints’ days.  Check out the plentitude just in March.

St. David’s Day, Patron of Wales————–March 1
St. Katherine Drexel————March 1
Bl. Charles the Good————–March 2
St. Chad————–March 2
St. Cunegundes, Empress————–March 3
Pope St. Lucius I, Martyr————–March 4
St. Francis of Assisi—————March 4
St. Casimir————–March 4
St. John Joseph of the Cross————–March 5
St. Phocas————–March 5
St. Fridolin———-March 6
St. John of the Cross————March 5
Sts. Perpetua and Felicitas————–March 6
St.Colette————–March 6
St. John of God————–March 8
St. Thomas Aquinas————–March 7
St. Frances of Rome————–March 9
St. Dominic Savio————–March 9
The 40 Holy Martyrs of Sebast————–March 10
St. Eulogius————–March 11
St. John Ogilivie————March 10
St. Sophronius————–March 11
St. Nicholas Owen————–March 12
St. Gregory the Great————–March 12
St. Euphrasia————–March 13
St. Josaphat————–March 13
St. Rodrigo———-March 13
St. Matildis————March 14
St. Maud————–March 14
St. Clement Hofbauer [Haufbauer]————–March 15
St. Longinus—————March 15
St. Louise de Marillac—————-March 15
St. Abraham the Hermit————–March 16
St. Joseph of Arimathea————–March 17
Saint Gertrude of Nivelles ————–March 17
St. Patrick—————March 17
St. Cyril of Constantinople——–March 6
St. Joseph—————March 19
St. Photina————–March 20
St. Cuthbert————–March 20
St. Benedict————–March 21
St. Catherine of Sweden————–March 22
St. Gabriel the Archangel————–March 24
St. Dismas————March 25
St. Ludger————–March 26
St. John Damascene————–March 27
St. John of Capistrano————–March 28 [Trad.] Oct. 23 [New]
Sts. Jonas, Barachisius and Companions————–March 29
St. Zozimus of Syracuse, Bishop————–March 30
St. John Climacus————–March 30
St. Acacius————–March 31

We just celebrated St. Patrick’s Day in style. It’s a day to really whoop it up for the patron saint of Ireland~  wear green, drink Guinness, and belt out killer pub songs between bites of corned beef and steamed cabbage.  All topped off with strong coffee, Irish whiskey, and a generous layer of cream.

 

You saw the calendar of March celebrations. Another day, another saint.

Today, March 19, belongs to St. Joseph.

 

As in Jesus, Mary and…. 

 

Sicilians honor St. Joseph because he saved them from starving during a serious drought in the Middle Ages. Parades are, well, inevitable. “Viva la tavola di San Giuseppe!” Let the feast begin!

They set up St. Joseph’s tables, Tavole di San Giuseppe, covered in food. The bounty of the altar is shared not only with friends and family, but with the needy. Everyone gives thanks for blessings received during the year.

The altar sports a variety of meatless foods like minestrone and pasta with breadcrumbs. The breadcrumbs are a symbol of the sawdust on St. Joseph’s floor and, yes, are even a form of protection. (Sicilians wrote the book on protection. They’ll scatter salt on the floor by the front door to ward off the evil eye, or, if necessary, employ more combustive measures.)  I’ve learned to keep some in the freezer so that when a storm threatens, I can scatter them in the yard while saying a prayer to St. Joseph to spare me from harm.  I’m not afraid of any upcoming storms: Theseus, Ursa, Valerie, Wyatt, Xavier, Yuri or Zeno.

All hail the conquering breadcrumbs. (Watch for #conqueringbreadcrumbs on Twitter.)

And always, always, there are fava beans on the altar. They are undeniably lucky because during that Sicilian drought, the fava thrived while all other crops failed.

The table is blessed by a priest and has three tiers, a nod to the Holy Trinity. The top tier is the statue of St. Joseph surrounded by flowers and greenery.

The other tiers hold food, flowers, and candles.

The day ends with each person taking home a bag of bread, fruit, pastries, cookies, a St. Joseph medal, Holy Card and/or a blessed fava bean.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That lucky bean is to remind you to pray to St. Joseph. I always pray for zeppole.

 

It’s the most famous indulgence of the Feast of St. Joseph.

Zeppole were invented in 1837 by a Neapolitan cook named Ippolito Cavalcanti. Apparently he was quite the baker as well as Dante’s BFF.

Few saints used to hang out with gourmands and men-about-town.  They were hermits or monks like St Cuthbert, on deck for tomorrow’s feast day. He was all about miracles and healing. And ducks. St Cuthbert  is associated with Eider ducks, known in Northumberland as Cuddy’s ducks. A colony nests on the Farne Islands where the saint had his hermitage.

St. Cuthbert discovered local people liked to eat the eider ducks and their eggs.  So he introduced the world’s first bird protection laws to protect them and other sea birds nesting on the islands.
These are believed to be the earliest bird conservation laws in the world.

There’s a two-day celebration for this region’s beloved Cuthbert. A man of vision. Like the courageous and fervent Patrick.

 

Clearly the heavens are populated with thousands of saints. It’s a staggering task to celebrate them all. The crowd faves are eternally commemorated but what about St. Cunegund? St. Nicanor? St. Carpophorus?

So, pick a saint. Have a frolicsome festival. Make something yummy.

 

Write a note to a great teacher on St. Ita’s Day. Make a donation to a feline rescue organization on St. Gertrude’s Day. Give your dog a special treat on St. Roch’s Day. Take your mother out to dinner on St. Martha’s Day. No matter what saint you celebrate, break out the fireworks!

Toni 3/19/17

 

The Pastas of Piemonte: Fantastico (fuel) for the rigors of hiking

I am Italian. I eat pasta and drink wine. Allora, I’ll never be a size 0 but it’s a small price to pay for such a joyous life.

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There are over 600 artful shapes of pasta. Spaghetti, vermicelli, rotini, fusili, tortellini, linguini, fettuccine, penne, and capellini are common on every American menu and store shelf.

 

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But I’m in Piemonte and in love with the local pasta. In this region, tajarin (tie-yah-REEN) reigns as the most popular pasta ever. It’s a thin, bright-yellow pasta topped with an earthy porcini mushroom sauce.

The allure of this pasta made with forty eggs is undeniable.

And, yes, emotion is unquestionably a part of my enchantment.  As it is with anyone who has a pulse.

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World Pasta Day is the brainchild of the World Pasta Congress. Experts from all over the world come together to discuss the glories of the noodle.

I’m celebrating this momentous occasion with a day and night (ok, let’s be honest here, days and nights) of carbohydrate overload.  Should you wonder, naps are mandatory.

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There is no doubt that it takes a village to feed me.  These warm and wonderful Italians are supportive folks.

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Mi amici, waste no time. Gather the villagers. Make plans.

Tomorrow is World Pasta Day!

How will you celebrate?

Toni 10/24/16

YOU CAN PUT THAT SALT GRINDER DOWN

Here we are, all the way into the August of another year.  The garden is exploding.

I think that a vegetable garden shouldn’t just be functional…it should be pretty to look at. So come see how my garden grows…and shows.

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And, yes, I’m here to suggest you put that salt grinder down.

 

Herbs.   I love.

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Here’s my case for the herbal sense of taste:  Herbs add just the right tang of green to food. They may be sublime ingredients, but they’re not shy or retiring. They’re free-spirited and supernal, divinely edible and summer-sweet healthy.

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It’s August 29, so let’s all celebrate MoreHerbs, Less Salt Day.   Call it a passion-raising plug for a finer solution.
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Just a little rosemary, thyme, or oregano will enrich a dish as much as a heavy dose of salt.

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My favorite herb is basil. It’s besiegingly lovely. Beyond utterance. This year, I’ve got a bull-moose bumper crop of Biblical measure.

Gardening with herbs, which is becoming increasingly popular, is indulged in by those who like subtlety in their plants in preference to brilliance.
– Helen Morgenthau Fox

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When you make dinner tonight, instead of adding salt, use a few herbs.  Get the skinny here on Twitter.

Whatever you eat, it’s best when herbs are involved.

Summa cum yummy.  I guarantee it.

 

 

Toni 8/29/16   ps Zucchini still coming? Be an expert.  Herbs make it better with a little feta. Try this.