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St. Joseph’s Day

Wednesday, March 19th, 2008

March 19th is celebrated in many Italian and Italian-American communities as the Feast of St. Joseph. It all started back in the Middle Ages when there was a drought in Sicily. The desperate people who lived off the land prayed to St. Joseph to bring them rain. In return for rain, they promised to host a huge meal in his honor. Sure enough, the rains came and the land was prosperous once again. An enormous feast was prepared and so began the tradition of the St. Joseph’s Table and the custom of giving food to the needy. Today, hundreds of years later, many churches and organizations still host St. Joseph’s Tables. Parishioners or members prepare and donate large amounts of food, all meatless items. St. Joseph’s Day was always an exciting time for me growing up. When I was very young, my mother made a novena to participate in the St. Joseph’s Table every year at Notre Dame de Chicago Church. Her specialty was deviled eggs (why? I’m not so sure as it’s not traditionally Italian, but they were delicious nonetheless). It was just fun to be in the kitchen with Mom, helping her peel the eggs and getting to eat the ones that didn’t turn out so perfectly. But I also learned about the concept of charity, of helping those who aren’t as privileged as I am.

In addition to the St. Joseph’s Tables, other customs include wearing red on March 19th and eating zeppole. What are zeppole, you ask? Well, let me tell you: they are fried, custardy mounds of deliciousness. Actually, a zeppola (plural: zeppole) is lightly fried Italian bread dough filled with custard (see my photo below).

We get them only once a year, on St. Joseph’s Day, and I know it’s something I look forward to. This year we got ours from Naples Bakery.

Aside from wearing red and eating zeppole, I regard St. Joseph’s Day as a time to reflect on and celebrate my rich Italian heritage, and to contemplate how I could give more to those who are in need.

Posted by Francesca

It’s the holiday season

Thursday, December 27th, 2007

We hope everyone had a happy and enjoyable Christmas. I meant to write before the holiday about our Christmas Eve extravaganza but time got away from me. This year, Chef Mark decided to have a formal multi-course meal, rather than our usual buffet-style feeding frenzy. I was against the idea at first because I knew it meant that Mark would be in the kitchen the entire time, preparing the series of courses, instead of sitting down and eating with the rest of us. His reply was, “You know me. As long as everything tastes good, I don’t care.” How can I argue with that? We had the usual appetizers; Mom made her famous shrimp dip, cheese ball, and fried shrimp. Mark also made crab cakes and baked clams. Everything was so delicious and we all ate so much that I was afraid we would not have any room left for the big meal. The first course was fish salad (made by Mom – so good!), followed by shrimp bisque. Mark made the bisque from scratch and he started the whole process two days prior. Next course was linguine with clam sauce, one of my all-time favorites. The main course was hazelnut-crusted trout served over asparagus spears. Everything was cooked to perfection and beautifully presented. Chef Mark truly outdid himself, as did Mom. It wasn’t just about the food, though. We all received really awesome gifts from our Secret Santas, too, but the best part of any holiday is spending it with our families. That time spent is way more valuable than any gift we could ever get.

Posted by Francesca

Dad on Almost Italian

Thursday, December 6th, 2007
Making meatballs and gravy. Check it out! Posted by Francesca

Almost Italian

Tuesday, September 18th, 2007
A few days ago I was contacted, via Flickr, by writer Skip Lombardi. He is the author of a cookbook titled Almost Italian. It is a collection of Italian-American recipes, such as clams casino and chicken parmiggiano, ... [Continue reading this entry]

Florence Scala, 1918-2007

Tuesday, August 28th, 2007
I remember hearing many stories about her when I was growing up. My grandmother lived down the street from her. My grandfather talked about how they went to school together. I even got to meet her when ... [Continue reading this entry]

Thoughts on Festa Italiana

Tuesday, August 14th, 2007
The long-awaited Festa Italiana has come and gone. I have mixed feelings about the event.... Friday night was a blast. The highlight had to be the Italian karaoke. When I first learned of it, I thought it would ... [Continue reading this entry]

Taylor Street Festa Italiana – Mark your calendars!!

Tuesday, July 24th, 2007
Taylor Street Festa Italiana is taking place August 10-12, on Taylor Street between Ashland and Loomis. I have been looking forward to this event since I first heard about it a few months ago. It will be ... [Continue reading this entry]

Festa Pasta Vino

Saturday, June 16th, 2007

Festa Pasta Vino, originally uploaded by superstarsinger.

[Continue reading this entry]

American Kids vs. Italian Kids

Tuesday, April 24th, 2007
American Kids: Move out when they're 18 with the full support of their parents. Italian Kids: Move out when they're 28, having saved for that nice house and are a week away from getting married .... unless there's room in the ... [Continue reading this entry]

Monday, March 19th, 2007
free glitter text and family website at FamilyLobby.com Posted by Felicia