Monday, March 17, 2008
Eh, Paisano!! La Festa de San Giuseppe!
Never heard of St. Joseph? I hadn't either until I married an Italian. St. Joseph aka Jesus's foster Dad, is the patron saint of Sicily and later Italy. According to legend, during the Middle Ages the Sicilian's prayed to St. Joseph to save them from a famine, and he complied by protecting the fava bean crop. To this day, Italian families and whole communities celebrate St. Joseph's day on March 19th by wearing red, and serving non-meat dishes with of course fava beans, and pasta, seafood, stuffed artichokes, etc.
So this year we gathered all the Italians in Northfield MN, all 12 of them, and had a glorious St. Joseph's Day meal. We did have stuffed artichokes along with stuffed shells, spaghetti, meatballs (we cheated), tossed salad, fresh fruit, pizzelles, Italian love cake,amaretti cookies, and lots of espresso with Sambuca. St. Joseph's Day is also focused on feeding the poor - so everyone brought a contribution for the local food shelf.
Our friend Gina brought her Mom, and what a fabulous store of information! Her name is Carmela, and she's a 94-year-old Sicilian spitfire who dresses like a million bucks and is sharp as a tack. She told us the most amazing stories and had the kids listening wide eyed. She was SO HAPPY to be among Italians eating food with flavor rather than the Norwegian crap at her retirement community.
Saturday was the St. Pat's parade in downtown, and all the paisanos at our house decided we needed a St. Joseph's Day parade. Wouldn't we be a spectacle - 20 of us dressed in red making our own parade. But 20 Italians can sound like 100.
Everyone agreed we had just created a new tradition, and would meet again in August for La Festa De San Gennaro to play bocci and eat even more. Everyone was given the assignment to find ONE MORE Italian in town. That's a tall order.
Arrivederci! Ciao Bella mi amici!