Cooking For The Pope

As America gets ahold of itself in the wake of Pope Benedict XVI’s recent visit, the time has come for parsing and analyzing every little thing His Holiness did while abroad in our native land. Not the least of these is what he ate.

Last week, former Cardinal John Ratzinger visited the United States for the first time since becoming the Catholic church’s 265th pope in 2005. While in New York City, celebrity chef, local restaurateur and cookbook author Lidia Bastianich, along with a team of high-profile chefs cooked for His Holiness. Bastianich emigrated from Italy in 1958, when she was 12, with the help of Catholic Charities. From the New York Daily News:

Bastianich was asked two months ago if she would like to cook for the Pope, and didn’t even believe it at first. “I looked around behind me, to see if they were talking to someone else,” she says. “The Pope even looks like my father, and I kind of feel as if it’s my father coming to dinner. For me, it is an opportunity to welcome someone as family and make the Pope feel comfortable.”

The meals stayed relatively simple, for one of New York’s most celebrated chefs: lots of fish and seasonal vegetables. Sunday’s lunch also included a beef goulash that apparently got through to His Holiness in a big way. According to Ed Levine on Serious Eats, “after the goulash, the pope said to Lidia, “These are my mother’s flavors.” Lidia said she almost cried when she heard this.”

You can take a look at the full menu on Serious Eats, as well as some recipes on ABC’s website. There’s also a website dedicated to the visit with a full roundup. We simply can’t imagine the pressure Bastianich must have felt, but she seems to have pulled it off. Congratulazioni, Lidia!

Bastianich plans a meal fit for the Pope [NY Daily News]
Cooking for the Pope: Lidia Bastianich Comes Full Circle [Serious Eats]
Recipes: Cooking For The Pope [ABC]
United States Papal Visit 2008 [Official Site]
Lidia Bastianich [Official Site]
Photo: Nuncatrezeamesa [Flickr]

Cooking For The Pope