Sunday, March 18, 2012

St. Joseph, Patron Saint of Real Estate (?)

This is a reprint of one of my very first posts.  I did not know how to upload photos when I did this post. So I edited it to add some.  I will be sharing this with Seasonal Sundays.  

Today is the feast day of St. Joseph.   St. Joseph is known as the spouse of Mary, and foster father of  Jesus.  He is the Patron Saint of hearth and home and also venerated as a model for laborers.  With the economy today and lack of jobs, I say it couldn't hurt to say a few prayers to him. 

St. Joseph has also gained fame as the go-to saint when you want to sell your house.  I am not ashamed to admit that I actually had two statues of St. Joseph at work when my home went on the market.  You can buy kits with a tiny plastic figure of him, a plastic bag to place him in, a cloth sack to store him in (you must remember to take him with you when you move) and a prayer card.  You then bury the statue in your backyard upside down and facing the house.  No yard, you can use a flower pot.  I did sell my house but it was probably a year after I buried my first statue.  

My second statue was a gift, and since St. Joseph was holding Baby Jesus in his arms, I opted to place this one in my front window.  I made sure to take both statues with me!

My paternal grandmother, who was born in Sicily, was very devoted to St. Joseph.  Each year she would  cook and bake and prepare a huge feast for family, friends, and neighbors.  There would be a statue predominantly displayed, surrounded by flowers.  Her best linens, china, glasses, silverware would all be taken out and scrubbed til it shone.  One of the dishes guaranteed to be on la tavola di San Giuseppe (the St. Joseph's table) was pasta con sarde.  

Thick-cut bucatini pasta (a fat spaghetti) topped with a sauce of fresh sardines, raisins, pignoli nuts, fennel, a hint of tomato, onion, and toasted breadcrumbs.  Not a dish for the faint of heart, it is definitely an acquired taste.  I tasted it for the first time when I was in my twenties, and was immediately hooked!  There are many recipes on the internet.  One that I use is from Mary Ann Esposito of Ciao Italia.

For dessert, there are two delicious pastries.  One is zeppole, 

a cream puff filled with a rich vanilla pastry cream and topped with a cherry (old fashioned pastry shops use a brandied cherry), and sfingi, 

a deep-fried cream puff filled with cannoli cream and topped either with a cherry or a strip of candied orange peel.  With a cup of espresso (or as my mother and grandmother would  say, "demi tasse") it is a true decadent indulgence. 

Although St Joseph's Day follows on the heels of St. Patrick's Day, there is certainly a lot less fanfare with St. Joe than there is with St. Pat.  But I guess I was channeling Grandma Jennie today when I decided to do this post.  That and the thought of a dish of pasta con sarde and perhaps a sfingi.  Yum!  xo,


  1. The zeppole are here for 1 month, we've already hit the bakery 3 times, plus relatives keep dropping some off. So good!

  2. reading your post made me feel like I had been invited to your grandmothers "Tavola Di San Giuseppe" I know for sure she is your inspiration for all the fabulous dishes you make!

  3. I have heard the story of using St. Joseph to sell your house, but I had no idea that people actually had celebrations in his honor. As for the meal...I think maybe I would skip the pasta (sardines???) and have both desserts!

  4. Hope you had a good St. Joseph's Day. I have made zeppole from a friend's recipe. But it was a ricotta mixture, deep fried and sprinkled with conf sugar? Addictive!

  5. Wow, Kathleen, I am impressed!! That type of zeppole were traditional in my family for New Year's Eve. I had my pastries from a bakery and my pasta dish at a restaurant! I will get the ball rolling for Easter dishes, for sure. xo,
    P.S. I am now "word verification free" :-)

  6. Hi lovely lady.
    I love your sweet Pastries and would love to have one right now. My so is name afther ST.Joseph seeing he is Catholic!! I did reside on Long Island for a long time with my mom and dad ~~~and had all the Great Food you are talking about sweet lady. Thanks so much for your lovely comments on my Tablecapes and becoming one of my Followers !!! Im your newest follower on your blog now.
    I hope you have a Great Evening. and come back to see one more Table next week.
    Thanks so much~~~

  7. Oh Diane - I was just on Ebay trying to find a tablecloth like your shamrock one!! I never shopped on Ebay before. But I am so taken with that cloth. :-) Thanks for following my baby blog and your sweet comments. I had a lot of family on Long Island, mostly in Suffolk County.

  8. I enjoyed reading your reminiscences Barbara! I didn't realize you had started to write your blog! You're doing a wonderful are a natural!

    I love pasta con sarde! I can't make it too often because it is very salty but it is one of my favorite pasta dishes.

  9. Love your post -- with St. Patrick's and St. Joseph's being so close together the second often gets "lost in the shuffle" but I guess the Irish know how to party better than the Italians LOL!!!

    I'm glad to see a St. Joseph post! The table is often legendary!

  10. What a great post and a great reminder; I grew with St Joseph being a very big part of our family, but I have never heard of these pasties.

  11. I'm not Catholic but I have heard of St. Joseph and how the statue is buried. Love traditions like those! That pasta sounds wonderful to me but I love sardines :)

  12. Thanks for this post, it is so interesting. I did know about the St Joseph statue. My daughter buried one and sold her home straight away.
    I heard on TV a little while ago that St Joseph was the patron saint of carpenters. Made sense to me.
    You always have such interesting posts.
    Blessings on this special day,

  13. I really enjoyed reading this post! I've not heard the story of St. Joseph before.


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