Lidia Bastianich, with the help of fellow restaurateur Angelo Vivolo, was tasked with a huge responsibility for the past few days.
Best known for Lidia’s Italy and other PBS shows, as well as her Manhattan flagship restaurant Felidia, Lidia Bastianich was chosen to feed Pope Francis during his New York City visit.
Quite the undertaking for anyone, but Lidia Bastianich seemed undaunted by the pope’s presence in the the five-story Upper East Side townhouse of the Vatican’s United Nations representative where she prepared his meals.
Lidia Bastianich said of the special guest, “There’s an intimacy, a closeness, a warmth — he’s a guest who sleeps upstairs. It’s like having family visiting and you’re cooking.”
While visit and visitor were exceedingly special, Lidia Bastianich took a cue from Pope Francis’ personality and lifestyle, opting to serve simple dishes.
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For example, during his first night in New York, Lidia Bastianich served the pontiff sliced heirloom tomatoes, steamed lobster and homemade burrata, which a fresh Italian cheese made from mozzarella cheese and cream.
For lunch the next day, Lidia Bastianich cooked up risotto with summer truffles and aged grana Padano cheese. She also added bagna cauda, a garlic and anchovy dip for raw vegetables, after hearing that it was a favorite dish of his.
For dinner on Friday Lidia Bastianich served homemade ravioli filled with shredded pears and pecorino cheese and for the main course, roasted striped bass with olive oil, parsley and lemon.
For Lidia Bastianich, she’s not just serving the pope, she is honoring Catholicism and all it stands for in her eyes.
She said, “In this food, for me, is everything I feel about Catholicism. … Let’s feed each other some sustenance, some love.”
The pope is already off to Philidelphia to finish out his Apostolic Journey in the United States, but he surely enjoyed the food in New York.
What a touching way to honor the pope’s visit. What do you think about Lidia Bastianich’s menu for Pope Francis?
Do you find it as simple and humble as the pope himself?