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‘Dining with the Saints’: Connecting Food and Faith With Michael Foley

Team Busted Halo loves food and faith, and Father Dave welcomes back author Michael Foley to connect these topics in his book, “Dining with the Saints: The Sinner’s Guide to a Righteous Feast,” co-written with Father Leo Patalinghug.

Michael is known for his books about saint-inspired alcoholic beverages. He reflects,“‘Drinking with the Saints’ pairs wine, beer, and cocktail suggestions with feast days of the Church year; it follows the liturgical calendar. Then I did two sequels, a Christmas book, ‘Drinking with St. Nick,’ and then ‘Drinking with your Patron Saints.’ Finally, after writing those three books, it occurred to me that with all that drinking I should probably eat some food.”

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He describes how his publisher brought him and Father Leo together. Michael says, “It was just a perfect match. I provided the saint stories and particular food suggestions. Then he provided the actual recipes, which was the perfect distribution of labor…he’s a fantastic chef.”

Father Dave and Krista select different saint’s recipes, including “Saint Luke’s Sizzling Steak” and “Roasted Duck with Oranges and Carrots” for the Feast of the Archangels. Regarding the latter feast, Michael says, “How did we pair these [saints and recipes]? One option is we knew what the saint liked to eat. Obviously, you can’t do that with angels, they have no culinary preferences. But option number two is, what are the culinary traditions that grew in Europe and the Middle East over centuries that were tied to particular feast days?” He describes how cooking a goose or duck was a common meal to celebrate Saint Michael’s day, or Michaelmas, in England and Ireland.

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Some other recipes are based on geography, specifically where a saint lived or served. Michael and Father Leo offer a recipe for Neapolitan pizza based on Saint Francis Caracciolo’s birthplace of Naples. Michael describes pizza as a “humble food” and says, “What’s amazing is that some of our favorite foods today were foods that were invented by the poor, and pizza is one of them. BBQ is actually another one; it was always the leftover bits that the rich didn’t want and the poor could afford that they transformed into delicious meals. So there’s an allegory for the Christian life, in that if you take the scraps from the table, you take it with humility, and you turn it into something beautiful.”

Father Dave reflects, “It is like God elevating the basic elements, almost like what we do at the Mass. Something that’s very simple, basic, and humble – wheat, water, and flour – that through God’s grace becomes the true presence of Christ. So it also kind of mirrors the sacramental experience.” Michael responds, “It’s also an imitation of the incarnation itself. When God humbles himself, the rest of us get elevated.”