The tradition of a St. Joseph's Day,

began when there was a severe
drought in Sicily in the middle ages.
In desperation, people asked
St. Joseph, their patron, to intervene.
They promised, if rain came,
they would prepare a big feast
in his honor. The tradition says these
prayers were answered with rainy weather.
In gratitude, huge banquet tables
were set-up in public and poor people
were invited to come and eat as much
as they wanted.

Today, special foods,
linens, flowers, and statuary adorn the
St. Joseph's Altar which is built with
three steps representing the Holy Trinity.

Generosity marks this day,
as it did the character of Joseph
himself. In many nations it's a day
of sharing with the poor and needy,
and nowhere is this better carried out
than in the nation that perhaps loves
the most: Italy.

In many Italian villages,
especially in Sicily, every one of any
means contributes to a table spread in the
public square as an offering for favors
received from prayers to this kindly saint.
The bread made for this day is
often shaped like a scepter or
a beard; villagers representing Jesus,
Mary, and Joseph are guests of
honor at the feast, and other guests
are the orphans, widows, or beggars.
After Mass, all go in procession to
this festive table. After the priest blesses
the feast, everyone shouts, "Viva
la tavola di San Giuse!" then eats.

At the end of the meal every guest
is given something to take home.
For this feast, a unique minestrone is made;
people add any vegetarian ingredients that
happen to be handy to the soup. [This is
the origin of a Sicilian expression minestra
di San Giuse,
i.e., confusion or chaos.]

Although all kinds of lentils and
dried beans are eaten on Saint
Joseph's feast, cheese, usually a
popular a part of the Italian diet,
is not served; instead of grated
Parmesan, this minestrone is
served with dry toasted bread crumbs.

These traditional feast day recipes were contributed by Italian-American friends;
most have emphasized that these portions were meant to serve "a crowd" --
not a couple of friends.


Cookie Dough: Filling:
2 Eggs 1 lb. Chick Peas
1/4 Tsp. Salt 2 Cups of Walnuts
1/2 Cup Sugar 8 ozs. Seedless Raisins
1/2 Cup Oil 1/4 Cup Honey (or Molasses)
1 Tsp Vanilla 1/2 Cup Sugar
3 1/2 Cups Flour 2 Tbs Jelly (Grape)
1/4 Cup Cold Water 1 Tsp Cinnamon

Oil for Frying

Beat eggs, salt sugar, oil, and vanilla together
and work in the flour and water alternately
keeping the mixture smooth until dough is stiff.

Work more flour into the dough on a baking board,
then wrap in waxed paper and put aside to chill
while you make the filling.

Cook chick peas & its liquid 20 minutes.
Chop the nuts finely; mix with remaining
ingredients. Drain peas, work through a
grinder (use processor or blender) until
smooth. Then mix with filling.

Divide the dough into quarters and roll out
one quarter at a time, very,very thin.
Cut dough in 3" squares.

Place a teaspoonful of filling on squares,
brush edges with beaten egg and water.
Fold into rectangles, pressing edges with fork to seal.

Heat oil to 350 degrees, fry cavezunes 2
to 2 1/2 minutes or until golden. Drain.
Sprinkle with confectioners sugar.




Fanelli Family Recipe: Cavazune

This recipe might make enough for an army,
because it came with a note to make 1/4
of what it calls for. These are actually a kind of calzoni.

Dough: Filling:
7 lbs flour 4 lb ceci (chick peas)
8 eggs 2 cups honey
water 1 cup sugar
oil 1 tsp cinnamon oil (buy at a pharmacy)

Make dough like pasta dough & roll out in a macaroni machine.
Proceed as usual for preparing calzoni.






I Sfinge di San Giuseppe

Sphinx Cream-puff shell
1 cup pastry flour 1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup butter 4 eggs
1 cup water grated orange peel
salt grated lemon peel

1 lb. ricotta 2 tablespoons sugar
orange peel 2 tablespoons chocolate
generous dash of creme de cacao

Puff pastry shell:
Combine flour, butter, water, salt, and
sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
Cook and stir until the mass leaves the
side of the pan. Add eggs one at a time,
beating well after each addition.
Add a little grated orange & lemon peel.
Drop by tablespoon on a baking sheet;
bake at 400 degrees F. for 10 minutes.
Reduce heat to 350 degrees F. for another 25 minutes.

Cream Filling:
Stir until smooth: ricotta, chocolate, sugar,
a little grated orange peel, and a generous
dash of creme de cacao.
Fill puffs when they have cooled.



Mamma Giglio's Recipe: Pasta di San Giuse

Traditional breadcrumb-covered pasta is as
important as desserts for this special feast day.
Mamma Giglio made it annually for her family.

St. Joseph's sauce:
Heat 2 T. olive oil in large pot.
Saute 5 cloves of chopped garlic + a pinch
of red pepper flakes. Add 2 cups chopped fresh
fennel. Add 2 cups crushed tomatoes and
2 T. paste, 1 T. chopped fresh basil.

Cover and let simmer 30 minutes until fennel is
very tender. Then add 4 cans of drained, skinless,
and boneless sardines. Simmer just a few more minutes.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
Add 1 cup fine breadcrumbs (homemade or fresh from a
bakery, not pre-packaged such as Colonna's).
Cook over low heat until golden brown.

Cook pasta, top with sauce, then sprinkle with breadcrumbs.

[Mamma Giglio died near Valentine's Day 1998.
Her recipe has been submitted and it's here
as a tribute in honor of Mamma.]



A special dessert made in Bologna
for this feast is "Ravioli di San Giuseppe."
Made in the same way as other dumplings
but with puff paste or short crust, they are
filled either with marzipan or some kind of
jam, and either baked in the oven or fried
in oil to a rich golden color.

In Naples "zeppole" or cream fritters are
traditional. Again in Italy, little cakes filled
with jam are hawked at street corners on
Saint Joseph's Day. Sold right from the
kettles in which they're cooked, they can make the
whole city smell like one vast bakeshop.

New Orleans History of "Viva la tavola di San Giuse!"

      Saint Joseph's Altar, at Tulane Avenue. (Saint Joeseph Church)
      Saint Joseph's Altar, Irish Channel. (Saint Alphonsus Church)
      Saint Joseph's Altar, New Orleans Lakefront. (St. Frances Cabrini Church)
Thank You - Evann Duplantier, for correcting my spelling.
Duplanter's Mom still lives 3 blocks away, from Cabrini.
Evann's, has placed on the Web "Make a virtual offering, at a Virtual St. Joseph Altar!"

St. Joseph's Day Altars "Viva la tavola di San Giuse!"

La Festa di San Giuseppe "NYC-Style!"