Saturday, March 29, 2008

Pastry Dialogue

By John Thavis

(CNS) I wandered into Rome’s Jewish ghetto neighborhood because I read an intriguing little report about Pope Benedict’s favorite bakery.

The tiny Limentani pastry shop has long been a favorite of mine. I go for the same reason most Jewish pizzapeople go: their “Jewish pizza,” a type of miniature fruit cake packed with almonds, raisins and other stuff I’ve never identified. It looks terrible and tastes great.


I asked the senior woman behind the counter about the report that the pope had their sweets delivered to his table. Through a series of phrases and gestures, she let me know that it was somewhere between maybe and probably true.

“The other pope, too,” she said. Before I could respond, customers in the jam-packed bakery began talking excitedly about John Paul II, the “other pope,” the one who in 1986 came to visit their synagogue a block away.

“He and Rabbi Toaff were great friends,” one woman said. That prompted a whole new round of assent and acclamation in the shop. When Pope John Paul died, Elio Toaff, Rome’s former chief rabbi, made a moving visit to pray before the pope’s body. In his own spiritual testament, John Paul remembered the rabbi in a special way. “Now that was a pope!” one customer said.

They were still talking about Pope John Paul when I left the pastry shop, toting my pizza ebraica.

I passed by the synagogue, where 22 years ago I watched Pope John Paul pay his visit. I still remember the impression he made when he called Jews “our beloved elder brothers.”

At the street level of interreligious dialogue, those personal gestures endure. Pope Benedict also visited a synagogue in his native Germany, but he’s not as well known by the Rome Jewish community. His taste in pastries could change that.

4 comments:

Tara said...

"when he called Jews “our beloved elder brothers.”

At the street level of interreligious dialogue, those personal gestures endure."

Beautiful--John Paul II truly a saint! I'm going to search for a recipie for the Jewish pastry--sounds wonderful--I could sell it in my coffee-pastry shop.

Vincenzo said...

"I'm going to search for a recipie for the Jewish pastry--sounds wonderful--I could sell it in my coffee-pastry shop."

Tara, I found it mentioned in a couple other articles, but haven't seen a recipe yet.

jewishworldreview.com/ess/ess_roman_cuisine.php3

"The influence of different cultures and time periods is most obvious in dessert recipes. Bollo, a soft spongy cake studded with raisins and candied fruits, is known to have been brought to Rome by Jews expelled from Spain. A sweet pizza of almonds, raisins and pine nuts can be traced to the influence of Imperial Rome."

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www.wantedinrome.com/..id_n=4280

"Owner Vilma Limentani revealed that the pope is particularly fond of her almond and cinnamon biscuits as well as ‘Jewish pizza’ (pizza ebraica), a hard cake made with candied fruits, raisins, almonds and pine nuts."

swissmiss said...

I've seen a book in the library on Jewish breads...a search through Amazon would probably give you several choices. You might be able to search Amazon for the bread book and then "search inside" for that particular recipe. I almost checked out the book I saw at Easter, but figured it was the wrong time to be trying Jewish recipes :)

Cathy_of_Alex said...

OH, THAT'S what you meant! Ok, that looks really good. *drool, drool*