ALTAR • BREADS • SICILIAN EATS • APERTIFS • ACCORDIONIST • CHALK ART
special appearance by MARDI GRAS INDIANS + BABY DOLLS
Join us to celebrate the classic Feast Day for San Giuseppe with artistics originality and local Sicilian flavor.
ITALIAN aperitifs by Loa's Abigail Gullo
ALTAR by Abigail Gullo
BREADS by Angelo's
SFINCIONE - a traditional Sicilian pizza by Chef Slater
SIDEWALK CAFÉ • ACCORDIONIST • CHALK ART
International House, New Orleans’ premier boutique hotel, celebrates its 20th annual St. Joseph’s Day ritual by offering locals and visitors alike an authentic and lively taste of joyful culture in this most spirited city. On March 19, from 4:30-7 pm, the hotel will celebrate the Feast of San Giuseppe with Sicilian flair and multi-cultural expression unique to this city. Just outside the hotel’s monumental entrance, a sidewalk café with an accordion player magically materializes, serving Italian aperitifs, cocktails like Saint Rosalie and the BELLUCCI, Sfincione (Sicilian pizza) compliments of Chef David Slater and the team at Emeril Lagasse's MERIL RESTAURANT, traditional cookies from famed Angelo Brocato and breads from Angelo’s Bakery and Catering.
Oh, and there is one more thing. Says Abigail Gullo, “The Limone di Sorrento or Sorrento lemon is our secret ingredient in the world’s best limoncello. We make it each year from lemons we grow in Bywater. When sipped just right, it might transport you from our little citrus grove on the banks of the Mississippi to the volcanic hillsides overlooking the Bay of Naples. Cheers and cincin to an extravagant taste of place.” This video shows the magic.
Just as New Orleans’ extensive Sicilian community practices in private homes and neighborhood churches, International House honors St. Joseph with this altar installation created by local artist Britney Penouilh and her wonderful partners from New Orleans’ culinary and cultural communities.
Traditional in shape, the three-tiered altar honors the Holy Trinity. A statue of St. Joseph holding the infant Jesus stands at the top tier with delicate lilies below. Sawdust from the carpentry of the exhibit is bottled and placed on the altar, with various tools and symbols entirely made of bread. They intone the edible hagiography of Joseph and Sicily: hammers, nails, citrus, fennel, anise, sesame, figs, crosses, a crown of thorns, hearts and fava beans.
Other elements remind us of the withered vines and barren fields that daunted the Sicilian landscape before its people pleaded with St. Joseph for relief. New Orleanians, like their Sicilian counterparts struggling against disasters natural and man-made, are by necessity well-versed in the art of supplication, so much so that locals believe they’ve had Joseph’s ear in the most threatening of times. As Loa’s Spirit Handler Abigail Gullo explains, “When human efforts inevitably fall short, the saint who specializes in the issue at hand is called upon to step in to make life better.” Peruse any antique shop in the city and one finds an ample supply of well-worn saints’ paraphernalia, Joseph’s chief among them, which attest to this port city’s palpable reliance upon intercession.
Saint Joseph’s miraculous provision on behalf of Sicily in time of drought and famine has kept him the preeminent figure of paternal protection. This magnetism, in curious ecclesiastical fashion, inspires cross-pollination from other spiritual communities in New Orleans such as the Mardi Gras Indians who march on this day every year. Patience, persistence, courage and hard work are themes directly associated with St. Joseph. But a father’s love is what places this feast day front and center around the world. Though speechless in the gospels, Joseph portrays the decidedly masculine image of a family man who saves and shields with his stewardship. Catholic countries including Spain, Portugal and Italy celebrate this feast day as Father’s Day.
The soul of New Orleans is shaped by the contours of its rituals -- rituals inherited from the earliest immigrants who settled this place. Central to this ritual is the altar making, a labor of love with an age-old reverence for the patron saint of protection. Penance permeates the altars, in everything from the arrangement of items to the shapes of baked goods. Every moment of this ritual is a sacrificial offering. No one tells the story better than the altar-makers, master bakers and other New Orleanians who have kept these traditions alive.