Italian-American restaurateur and chef Aaron Confessori (The Boot, Westport Cafe & Bar) had never heard of a St. Joseph's Table until I brought up the subject earlier this week. I had been describing the glories of the annual event at the historic Holy Rosary parish in Columbus Park: cookies, cannoli, cookies, cannoli! There are other local churches that offer a St. Joseph's Table — Fat City wrote about the tradition last year — but Holy Rosary, a historically Italian parish, hosts one of the biggest and best-known in the metro. I walked out with so many boxes of Italian cookies (I freeze them and eat them all summer) that I barely made it to my car.
Like Aaron, I had never heard of a St. Joseph's Table until I moved to Kansas City. Our family didn't belong to an Italian parish (it didn't matter, my father stopped going to church in the 1970s when he started complaining that "hippies were playing guitars during mass") and it's a Sicilian custom. My Aunt Mary in Lockport, New York, on the other hand, remembers the festivities very well. "They served a dish called pasta con sarde, made with sardines," she told me, "in honor of a famine in Sicily that ended with the miracle of a huge haul of sardines."
"And putting on the event was a big production for the parish, with all the cookies and the flowers and the decorations. I think that's why it's so hard to find churches that still want to do it. It's a lot of work."
The Holy Rosary Parish, 911 Missouri, will have an official blessing of the St. Joseph's Table — located in Scalabrini Hall, adjacent to the church, after noon on Sunday, March 18 and begin selling cookies and cannoli from noon to 6 p.m. A free meatless lunch will be served in the hall on Monday, March 19, from noon to 6 p.m. with a variety of sweets and Italian delicacies sold until 6 p.m.
The Kansas City Catholic Key offers a list of St. Joseph's Tables in the metro (including Belton, Grandview, Independence, Gladstone and Lee's Summit) that you can find clicking here.