The Italian American Club of Ormond Beach

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St. Joseph's Feast

Posted by Kathleen D'Ambra on February 27, 2017 at 5:10 PM Comments comments (0)

The Tradition of the Saint Joseph’s Day Table

 

Kevin Di Camillo

 

Saint Joseph’s Day, March 19th is, in Italy, also Father’s Day—which isn’t at all surprising as St. Joseph was, of course, the foster father of Jesus. This feast and festival—which always falls in the midst of Lent—is especially commemorated and celebrated in Italy in general and Sicily in particular.

 

 

The tradition of the “St. Joseph Table” of food (“la tavala di San Giuseppe”;) has its origins in Sicily. Legends from the Middle Ages attributed the end of a devastating drought to a prayer-devotion that the Sicilian people made to St. Joseph. This celebration is a symbolic “thank you” and renewal of the Sicilian people’s devotion to Saint Joseph. It is a shared celebration with the entire community where the riches of food are given as alms to the poor: Traditional etiquette is that no one can be turned away from this table. As it is a living tradition, it has many interpreters and many food entries have been added and deleted along the way but two constants remain: no meat and sesame-coated breads in symbolic shapes.

 

 

A St. Joseph’s Day “Table” or “Altar” is a makeshift shrine-cum-dinner-festival held in one’s home, or more recently a church hall or club hall. The host family or group creates what amounts to a kinetic work of art. This table is rife with symbolism, particularly the decorative breads. It was this part of the meal that brought my own family’s bakery in Niagara Falls to be a participant in hundreds of these celebrations. Sicilian bakers sprinkle copious amounts of sesame seeds—which resemble and symbolize teardrops—on the many different types of St. Joseph’s Day breads which our family bakery has been producing for 96 years.

 

The St. Joseph’s Day altar, in addition to the breads above, contains a plethora of non-meat dishes due to the fact that St. Joseph’s Day always falls during the penitential season of Lent, and meat is forbidden on the Fridays between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday. The very first “greens” of springtime, dandelions and cardones (“burdock”;), are sprinkled on pizza. Fish and seafood from both the Mediterranean and Adriatic Seas, especially anchovies and sardines (from “Sardinia”, another Italian island), are served on Foccaccia (Italian flat-bread), and Biscotti Di Camillo (a twice-baked Italian toast-bread). Other St. Joseph’s Day staples include eggplant Caponata, excellent for dipping with Italian bread; as well as Pasta con Sarde, Egg frittas, bean dishes, olives, and especially lentils.

 

 

Beautiful as the Saint Joseph’s Day Table is to behold, it is a practical work of art: it is meant to feed not only friends and relatives but, traditionally, to feed the hungry strangers, those who cannot host their own Table either due to poverty or a particularly bad harvest in their family or having run out of food over the wintertime. Stunning to behold and delicious to partake in, a Saint Joseph’s Day Table is a tradition which is still carried on to this day.

 

The St. Joseph’s Day altar, in addition to the breads above, contains a plethora of non-meat dishes due to the fact that St. Joseph’s Day always falls during the penitential season of Lent, and meat is forbidden on the Fridays between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday. The very first “greens” of springtime, dandelions and cardones (“burdock”;), are sprinkled on pizza. Fish and seafood from both the Mediterranean and Adriatic Seas, especially anchovies and sardines (from “Sardinia”, another Italian island), are served on Foccaccia (Italian flat-bread), and Biscotti Di Camillo (a twice-baked Italian toast-bread). Other St. Joseph’s Day staples include eggplant Caponata, excellent for dipping with Italian bread; as well as Pasta con Sarde, Egg frittas, bean dishes, olives, and especially lentils.

 

 

Beautiful as the Saint Joseph’s Day Table is to behold, it is a practical work of art: it is meant to feed not only friends and relatives but, traditionally, to feed the hungry strangers, those who cannot host their own Table either due to poverty or a particularly bad harvest in their family or having run out of food over the wintertime. Stunning to behold and delicious to partake in, a Saint Joseph’s Day Table is a tradition which is still carried on to this day.

 

The St. Joseph’s Day altar, in addition to the breads above, contains a plethora of non-meat dishes due to the fact that St. Joseph’s Day always falls during the penitential season of Lent, and meat is forbidden on the Fridays between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday. The very first “greens” of springtime, dandelions and cardones (“burdock”;), are sprinkled on pizza. Fish and seafood from both the Mediterranean and Adriatic Seas, especially anchovies and sardines (from “Sardinia”, another Italian island), are served on Foccaccia (Italian flat-bread), and Biscotti Di Camillo (a twice-baked Italian toast-bread). Other St. Joseph’s Day staples include eggplant Caponata, excellent for dipping with Italian bread; as well as Pasta con Sarde, Egg frittas, bean dishes, olives, and especially lentils.

 

 

Beautiful as the Saint Joseph’s Day Table is to behold, it is a practical work of art: it is meant to feed not only friends and relatives but, traditionally, to feed the hungry strangers, those who cannot host their own Table either due to poverty or a particularly bad harvest in their family or having run out of food over the wintertime. Stunning to behold and delicious to partake in, a Saint Joseph’s Day Table is a tradition which is still carried on to this day.

 

For those that still have room left, there is always dessert and St. Joseph's Day means the famous Zeppole di San Giuseppe. Zeppole are basically "Italian doughnuts" simply dusted with sugar, cinnamon and honey or (as usually found on the East Coast) filled with yellow cream and covered with whipped cream. Zeppole are delicious but where I grew up it seems that Pignolatta is more popular. Pignolatta (pronounced bin-u-lath-a in the dialect still heard in my town) is a pyramid of little fried pastry balls covered in honey, nuts and chocolate bits symbolic of a pine cone. Those of Neapolitan descent or other parts of Italy will know this dessert as Struffoli. Also served are equally filling fried ravioli filled with sweetened ricotta or chickpeas, but for those who want something lighter a citrus salad of oranges and lemons is found in many households.

 

 

I Am An Italian-American

Posted by Kathleen D'Ambra on September 16, 2010 at 11:15 PM Comments comments (0)

I am an Italian-American. My roots are deep in an ancient soil, drenched by the Mediterranean sun, and watered by pure streams from snow capped mountains.

I am enriched by thousands of years of culture. My hands are those of the mason, the artist, the man of the soil.

My thoughts have been recounted in the annals of Rome, the poetry of Virgil, the creations of Dante, and the philosophy of Benedetto Croce.

I am an Italian-American, and from my ancient world, I first spanned the seas to the New World. I am Cristoforo Colombo.

I am Giovanne Caboto known in American History as John Cabot, discoverer of the mainland of North America.

I am Amerigo Vespucci, who gave my name to the New World, America

First to sail on the Great Lakes in 1679, founder of the territory that became the State of Illinois, colonizer of Louisiana and Arkansas, I am Enrico Tonti.

I am Filippo Mazzei friend of Thomas Jefferson, and my thesis on the equality of man was written into the Bill of Rights. I am William Paca, signer of the Declaration of Independence.

I am an Italian-American; I financed the Northwest Expedition of George Rogers Clark and accompanied him through the lands that would become Ohio, Indiana , Wisconsin and Michigan I am Colonel Francesco Vigo.

I mapped the Pacific from Mexico to Alaska and to the Philippines, I am Alessandro Malaspina. I am Giacomo Belinimi, discoverer of the source of the Mississippi River in 1823.

I created the Dome of the United States Capitol. They call me the Michelangelo of America. I am Constantino Brumidi.

In 1904, I founded in San Francisco, the Bank of Italy now known as the Bank of America, the largest financial institution in the world, I am A.P. Giannini.

I am Enrico Fermi, father of nuclear science in America.

I am Steve Geppi, founder of Diamond Comics, the largest distributorship of comics on the planet.

I am the first enlisted man to earn the Medal of Honor in World War II; I am John Basilone of New Jersey. I am an Italian-American.

I am the million strong who served in America 's armies and the tens of thousands whose names are enshrined in military cemeteries from Guadalcanal to the Rhine …

I am the steel maker in Pittsburgh, the grower in the Imperial Valley of California, the textile designer in Manhattan, the movie maker in Hollywood, the homemaker and the breadwinner in over 10,000 communities.

I am an American without stint or reservation, loving this land as only one who understands history, its agonies and is triumphs can love and serve it.

Will not be told that my contribution is any less nor my role not as worthy as that of any other American.

I will stand in support of this nation's freedom and protect against all foes.

My heritage has dedicated me to this nation. I am proud of my heritage, and I shall remain worthy of it. I am an Italian-American.

NOTE:  From Mr. Bianchi a former President of the Order Sons of Italy in America.

Pasta

Posted by Kathleen D'Ambra on September 9, 2010 at 3:14 PM Comments comments (0)

For Soups and Stews: Stelline(stars), Acine de Pepe (peppercorns), Orzo (barley, Ditalini (little thimbles), Conchiglie (conch shells), Cravate (bow ties) or Pastina (baby pasta).

Marinara or Seafood Sauce: Capellini (angel hair), Linguine (little tongues), Vermicelli (little worms).

Thicker Sauce or Alfredo Sauce: Fettucine (ribbons), Orecchiette (little ears), Gnocci (dumplings), Penne (pen quills), Rotini (twists), Tortelli (little cakes), Radiatore (radiators), Fusilli (helix), Farfalle (butterflies).

Stuff with Meat or Cheeses: Cannelloni (reeds), Tubetini (tubes), Manicotti (small muffs), Bucatini (hollow reeds) or Perciatelli (tiny holes).


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