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St. Joseph's Day Not For the Drunken Irish

By Anthony Todd in Food on Mar 18, 2008 3:32PM

StJoseph.jpgIn all the boozy fervor over St. Patrick’s day, most people forget that Italians also have a holiday at this time of the year. Wednesday is St. Joseph’s Day, the celebration of the father of Jesus, patron saint of fathers and workers. Celebrated since 1621, St. Joseph’s Day is marked by feasts and public altars full of food and drink. In America, cities with large Italian communities have parades, build public altars and distribute food to the poor. This year, thanks to Holy Week, the official celebration of St. Joseph’s day was moved away from the standard March 19th date, but some places are sticking to tradition! Below are some St. Joseph’s tidbits, and some places in Chicago to join in the fun.

One of the mainstays of St. Joseph’s day celebrations is Zeppole. An Italian pastry akin to a cream-puff, Zeppole is a wonderful treat that can only be found at this time of the year. Like us, Chicago bakeries aren’t paying much attention to the date change – in fact, one we called didn’t even know the change had been made! Head to Il Giardino Del Dolce (2859 N. Harlem Street) or Ferrara (2210 W. Taylor Street) to get your fix.

While most of the traditional Italian restaurants of Chicago seem to be leaving St. Joseph’s out of their calendars, one newcomer is throwing a feast to make any Italian proud. A Mano(335 N Dearborn), the new Italian spot from John Caputo of Bin 36, is holding a St. Joseph’s party on Wednesday. $45 gets you a huge menu full of Italian specialties. Don’t forget to wear red, the customary St. Joseph’s color!

If you’re in the mood to make an Italian feast at home, there are a few good websites full of recipes. Common dishes include pasta with sardines and Fennel, Sicilian-style artichokes, and something known as “St. Joseph’s Pants,” a sweet fried dumpling.

Any other great St. Joseph's traditions or gathering spots? Leave a note in the comments!