A century ago, Sicilian immigrants living in and around the Columbus Park neighborhood practiced a custom they had brought with them from their homeland: celebrating the intercession of the country's patron, St. Giuseppe, in preventing a famine - by creating rain during a drought - during the Middle Ages. Sicilians began the tradition of honoring the saint with a lavish feast. Over the years, the feast has been transformed from an eating celebration to a more visual-art form: a St. Joseph's Table is now more about viewing a display of food than eating it.
But in Kansas City, there's still a significant culinary component to the festivities, with many area churches serving a free pasta dinner on the actual feast day - this year on Tuesday, March 19 - and selling a variety of foodstuffs and pastries.
Holy Rosary Church isn't the only local parish celebrating the feast day (a complete list of area St. Joseph's Tables was assembled by the Catholic Key newspaper and can be found here), but it's probably the most elaborate. The St. Joseph's Table opens to the public for viewing at 4 p.m. Monday, March 18, in the church's Scalabrini Hall at 912 Pacific Avenue. Italian cookies and pastries will be sold until 7 p.m.
The following day, the Hall opens at 10 a.m., and a free meal of meatless (but anchovy-rich) pasta Milanese will be served from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. (donations accepted). The women of the church will again sell cookies, pastries, cannoli and eggplant-stuffed bread, until 6 p.m.