Following my post on St. Paddy’s day eats, I have to mention St. Joseph’s Day, a holiday in Italy which is accompanied by a delicious treat called the Zeppole. A zeppole is a fried donut-like pastry that is filled with jam or cream and topped with powdered sugar. They are traditionally made especially for St. Joseph’s Day. About.com has a simple recipe, as well as an extensive history of the humble zeppole.
St. Joseph’s Day (March 19) is one of the biggest holidays in Sicily (and some other parts of Southern Italy). Joseph is the patron saint of Sicily since people say that in the middle ages peasants prayed to him and he ended a drought. Now, in remembrance of this feat, some Sicilians create altars full of food and plenty in honor of the day. Fava beans, the crop St. Joseph saved, are popular, as are citrus fruits, which happen to be prolific in Sicily. The tradition has spread to places with large Sicilian immigrant populations, especially New Orleans. There is a lot of interesting history of Louisiana altars (like the one at right) at the Houston Institute for Culture.
This year, I found a list of places with “St. Joseph Tables” in Chicagoland in the Sun Times. I imagine it would be a cool experience to go to one.