The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

March 18, 2014

Mike Pound: Time to meet, eat at St. Bridget’s — again

A long time ago, my friend Sandi Morgan gave me a tip for making pasta sauce.

See, I’ve been making pasta sauce for a long time, and while I’m not an expert, I think my sauce is pretty good. I saute some garlic and onions; I add some tomatoes, sauce and paste; I throw in some oregano, thyme, garlic powder, basil and a few other spices; and then I toss in a handful of Parmesan cheese for extra flavor.

Sounds pretty good, right?

Well Sandi, who is of Italian descent, said something about the pork chop in the sauce.

“The pork who?” I think I said.

Turns out the pork chop in the bottom of a pot of pasta sauce is pretty much a staple among true Italian cooks, and now it’s a staple in my sauce.

So, when Margie Stricklin described the way the folks behind the annual St. Joseph’s Table celebration at St. Bridget’s Catholic Church in Scammon, Kan., make their pasta sauce, I knew exactly what she was talking about.

“We fry the pork chops and add them to the sauce, and when the sauce is done, we fight over who gets to fish them out and eat them,” she said with a laugh.

The eighth annual St. Bridget’s St. Joseph’s Table celebration will be from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday at St. Bridget’s Parish Hall.

St. Joseph’s Table celebrations are largely an Italian-Catholic tradition and are held in honor of the Catholic holy day of St. Joseph. Although St. Joseph’s Day is today, the church is holding its celebration on Sunday. A St. Joseph’s table is typically decorated with candles, flowers and lace tablecloths. On the table, you will find a variety of fresh baked breads, and sweets.

But that’s not all you will find in the way of food at the St. Bridget’s St. Joseph’s Table celebration. You also will find such Italian wonders as piles of homemade spaghetti and meatballs, at least five different kinds of pasta, lasagna, seafood shells, freshly made polenta with sauce, stuffed cabbage rolls, gnocchi, bruschetta, cannoli and a host of other mouthwatering delights.

And, so you know, everything is homemade. Last Sunday, for example, the church volunteers started making 1,300 meatballs.

I suppose the only problem with living in an area like Scammon, where there are so many great home Italian cooks, would be the occasional recipe disagreement. Margie said that before the church served up its first St. Joseph’s meal, the volunteers brought in a couple of older women, and well-known cooks, for a taste testing. Margie said that when the women arrived, things were already a bit tense in the kitchen because of a dispute about the use of crackers in one of the recipes.

“But when we brought the food out, one of the little old Italian women refused to eat anything because we didn’t use her recipe,” Margie said.

The cost of the St. Joseph’s Table dinner is $12 for adults, $6 for children younger than 12, and $2 for children 5 and younger.

In addition to the meal, there will be a host of fresh breads and pastries available for purchase.

Several years ago, Steve Langerot, who heads up the St. Joseph’s Table celebration, described St. Bridget’s as a “meet-and-eat parish,” which I thought was pretty funny. But it’s also accurate. Food, and the social interaction that goes with it, tends to be at the heart of most families and, by extension, many churches. Like I did, Margie grew up in a large Catholic family. And, like it was in my house, the kitchen in Margie’s house was the main gathering place.

I can’t promise that if you go to the St. Joseph’s Table celebration in Scammon you will get to hang out in the kitchen. But you will feel like family.

DO YOU HAVE AN IDEA for Mike Pound’s column? Call him at 417-623-3480, ext. 7259, or email him at mpound@joplinglobe.com. Follow him on Twitter @mikepoundglobe.

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