Bringing saints to dinner table

By  Jessica Williams, Youth Speak News
  • February 13, 2009
{mosimage}Saints at the Dinner Table, by Amy Heyd (St. Anthony Messenger Press, hard cover, 158 pages, $24.83).

If you could choose a saint, any saint, to invite to your family dinner, who would it be?

St. Joseph might be a strong contender, or how about St. Martha, or St. Clare of Assisi? Would you have lamb chops and garlic mashed potatoes, a simple but fun pizza or scrumptious chicken saltimbocca with salad on the side?  

Amy Heyd’s Saints at the Dinner Table offers not only a range of recipes, but complete menus for an entire meal inspired by saints, including delicious desserts.

With a dash of cookbook, a pinch of saintly biography and a sprinkling of personal reflection, Heyd tells readers how Saints at the Dinner Table came to be: in seeking to connect more deeply and ask the intercession of saints who shared her interest in food and caretaking, Heyd, a mother of three who enjoys cooking for her family and friends, found herself thinking about items of food that reminded her of the saints she was researching.

{sa 086716851X}Detailed accounts of 12 saints’ lives and times flavoured by Heyd’s personal encounters with saints are followed by recipes for meals with inspired titles like St. Joseph’s Comfort Food or St. Margaret’s Charity Soup. This book is not for the reader simply looking for a cookbook but for some education and spiritual growth as well. The range of interesting recipes from African dishes to plainer fair such as mashed potatoes or classics like bread pudding spice up the pages and sound mouth-wateringly tasty.

Among recipes tested, St. Martha’s No Worries Pizza is ideal for the family with picky eaters, with a simple dough recipe that can be broken into eight for individual pizzas to be custom-made by each hungry eater in assembly line fashion.

This is a fun activity to do as a family or at a casual dinner party. This recipe needs about an hour-and-a-half for preparing the pizza dough and allowing it enough time to rise beforehand, but during that time, vegetables, meats, cheese and other toppings can be diced, sliced and grated. Heyd has sprinkled time-saving tips throughout the book, such as buying or pre-preparing sauce and pizza dough or crust to allow for more quality time with family or friends. 

Following this custom-made pizza up with an Everybody Helps Themselves Sundae Bar, with a title that speaks for itself, is sure to satisfy a sweet tooth and allows guests or family members to have exactly what they’d like for dessert with as little or as many toppings as they’d like. Heyd includes a recipe for what she calls a St. Ambrose Sundae with warmed honey as a topping in honour of the saint who was the patron of beekeepers.

At Heyd’s suggestion, this book can be used as a learning tool for families and individuals who wish to learn about the saints and seek their intercession while enjoying the flavours and aromas of the dinner table. Discussion questions and prayers pepper the book’s pages to add to the spiritual nourishment of its reader.

“These lessons are universal and provide another way to talk to your children about being the best person each of us can be,” Heyd writes.

With easy-to-follow recipes, moving personal narratives and thoughtfully chosen saints, the idea of having dinner with a saint is not too far off with Saints at the Dinner Table. 

(Williams, 22, studies communications at Mount Royal College in Calgary.)

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