Tuesday, 22 February 2011

The Chair of St. Peter: Roaming Rome and Eating Roman

It is a funny old feast day this one. You see, there is a chair in St. Peter's, Rome. It is very ancient, fairly simple and wooden. It was built to travel - sturdy and portable, but, it is conserved in a gilt bronze casing designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini and I am not sure it can go anywhere much now. A chair is a symbol of teaching and authority. And, this chair is a very important one. It is said to be the chair on which St. Peter sat to teach the faithful. If you have ever been into St. Peter's you will know where this chair is, but the actual object is hard to see. You just have to know it is there, underneath an extravagance of Baroque and gilt, simple, wooden and silent. Around the apse are the words of Jesus to St. Peter, inscribed in Latin: 'You are Peter, and upon this rock, I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. To you have I entrusted the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.' Today, 22nd February, is the day the Petrine ministry is celebrated. The handing on of the teaching of Jesus through the successors of Peter. I find thinking of the simple, quiet, portable wooden chair surrounded by fixed loud Baroque decor and choruses of 'Tu est Petrus' unhelpful here. Just keeping it simple, the quiet and the unseen almost always more truthful and telling than the loud and brash. The wooden chair reminds me of a God made man, a carpenter, someone with the 'common touch' to bring people in to relationship with others. The gold has resonances of power which I find more difficult or sinister. Of course, exploring all things Roman is another way to go....

Just getting lost along the way, a typical Roman day

This is St. Philip Neri, who I went to see
I have been to Rome a few times, most recently in 2009, where I made the above immaculately planned journey. I went to see the Chiesa Nuova, the parish of Santa Maria in Vallicella and home of St. Philip Neri. Having throughly explored the Church, and paid due respects to saints there present, myself and my friend headed off in search of dinner. As always in Rome, we had seen and heard too much to be able to make sense of the outside world. We had a plan to go to a particular restaurant, but we got very lost (see above, click to enlarge). Eventually, hungry and a little grumpy, we turned a corner expecting to see the restaurant we were looking for. Wrong turning, again! But, this little side street had a crowd of lively Romans queueing outside a little restaurant with no name, few tables and plastic tablecloths. There was no menu, and only one very busy waiter. We are onto a winner here, I thought. We joined the queue, and some time later, were served with the most delicious meal ever. It was rabbit, very Roman - the Romans popularised the eating of rabbits and chickens. And, it was beautiful. Below, is my best attempt to recreate the dream.

Rabbit Pappardelle (Roman Rabbit)

Serves 4-6
You can do this with a whole rabbit, but some parts of the rabbit will take longer than others. Sometimes it is easier to just use legs. It depends on what your butcher has available.
500g pappardelle
4 rabbit legs
50ml olive oil
knob of butter
1 small carrot, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 celery stick, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 tsp tomato purée
½ glass white wine
about 250ml chicken or vegetable stock
salt and freshly ground black pepper
freshly grated Parmesan, to serve
small handful freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley, to serve
Season the rabbit legs. Heat the olive oil and butter in a pan, add the rabbit legs and brown on all sides.
Remove the rabbit from the pan, add the vegetables, garlic and herbs and cook for 4-5 minutes, or until evenly coloured.
Return the rabbit legs to the pan and add the tomato purée. Cook for 2 minutes, then add the wine and turn up the heat to bubble then reduce.
The Infernal City :)
Pour over enough stock to cover, then place a circle of baking parchment (cartouche) on top and cook on a low simmer until the meat comes away easily from the bones. This will take about 45 minutes.
Remove the rabbit and set aside until cool enough to handle. Lightly shred the meat into small pieces. Discard the bones.
Strain the stock, discarding the vegetables, and return to a clean pan. Add the rabbit pieces to the stock and place over a medium heat. Simmer until reduced and thick.
Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook the pappardelle for 4-5 minutes, or until al dente. Drain and toss with the rabbit sauce. Serve scattered with the freshly grated Parmesan and chopped parsley.

1 comment:

Shandon Belle said...

Hi! Have you seen our proposal for a Holy Year for Nuns?


We've be very glad if you would adopt it and promote it.

We'd also love it if you could add us to your list of blogs.

I must try your roman recipe. Would you like to come along on our Roman Pilgrimage in September?

God bless you!