We got to Rome, the home of all cool Catholic stuff like The Manger, that little crib made famous by a Lutheran who probably never saw the real deal but wrote a famous Christmas carol about anyway. Or the chains that fell off St. Peter while he was in prison.
Or the Scala Pilati, the steps Jesus climbed to see Pontius Pilate. Let's see those in a Baptist church!
But not only did we get to see items connected to those mentioned in the Bible, but also some of the lesser-known saints that very few outside the area have even heard of. The one who made the biggest impression on me was a woman who's been laying in a glass coffin in Lucca, Tuscany since 1278.
St. Lucca is the patron saint of domestics, cooks and waitresses.
http://http//www.welcometuscany.it/tuscany/lucca/santa_zita_lucca.htm And they take her day pretty seriously in Lucca with businesses putting out special displays in their windows to honor their city's saint. (It's not easy to be a saint. It usually takes a long time and a bunch of miracles.)
But not only do they have special day for her, but also a special torte known as, what else, a St. Zita torte, a swiss chard torte that also has a hint of sweetness, raisins, pine nuts and spice.
Trying, and failing, to duplicate the torte--we even succeeded in contacting the town council which sent us the "official recipe" for the St. Zita tore--I compromised (I'm sure the kindly saint wouldn't mind) making the following swiss chard torte which turns out great.
Saint Zita's Torte
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup olive oil
Blend four and salt together and then add oil and water, mixing well. On a lightly floured surface, knead dough for several minutes until smooth.
Press into 9-inch pie plate or tart pan with removable bottom and refrigerate for at least an hour.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
1 pound swiss chard, washed, stems removed and chopped
2 tablespoons dried basil
Several grindings of black pepper
3 large eggs
1/3 cup half-and-half
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Heat oil in large skillet and saute onion until soft. Add chard and cook turning to mix in with onion. Add seasoning and turn again to mix everything well. Set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, beat eggs with half-and-half and add cheese. Add card mixture and mix well.
Turn into prepared pan and bake at 375f for 40-45 minutes until top in golden. Cool to room temperature and serve.