What’s most interesting for us is that each saint’s day demands you eat a particular kind of food. On the feast of Saint Joseph, you eat sfingi, or cream puffs. Saint Anthony has you picking up a loaf of blessed bread from the church. For Saint Agatha, you eat pastry nipples. Think that’s strange? Wait till the feast of Saint Lucy when I give you the recipe for eyeball bread!
September 27 is the feast of Saint Cono, an obscure saint from the hill town of Teggiano, near Salerno. Legend says that Cono was born with a cone shaped head, a symbol of the Trinity. He wanted to become a monk which was against his mother’s wishes that he marry a nice Italian girl and have some kids. Finally, she relented when she found Cono praying in a burning bread oven, unharmed by the heat and flames.
Emigrants from Teggiano went to Uruguay, Brazil, Argentina, and Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The small Italian community that still lives in the middle of Hipsterville, USA celebrates Saint Cono as a last remaining thread to Teggiano. Richardson Street between Lorimer and Union has the official second name “San Cono Strada” because his unofficial shrine remains there, in a private residence.
There are a lot of people in Williamsburg named Cono, and there used to be quite a few businesses with Cono in the name as well. Many have moved on but you can still dine at Cono & Sons O’Pescatore at 301 Graham Avenue. They serve good, traditional Italian-American fare like reliable scalloppini, saltimbocca, and zuppa di pesce. [Update: Cono & Sons O’Pescatore is sadly closed as of September 2010.]
But you can have your own feast as well, and prepare this typical dish from Teggiano in honor of Saint Cono. (And if you want to sound like you’re from Teggiano, call them gavateel.)
Cavatelli with Broccoli Rabe and Sausage
Prep time:5 minutes
Total time:30 minutes
Makes SERVING YIELD
- 1 bunch broccoli rabe
- 1 lb fresh or frozen cavatelli pasta (or any cone shaped pasta)
- 1 1/2 cups olive oil, divided
- a pinch of dried red pepper
- 3 spicy sausages
- 1 teaspoon salt
Clean the broccoli rabe by cutting off bottom of the stems and dry leaves. Bring pot of salted water to a boil and blanch the broccoli for 2 minutes. Remove with tongs, set aside, and add your pasta.
In a separate pan, warm 1/2 cup of olive oil with red pepper flakes. Remove the sausages from their casings, add the meat in warm oil and break it up with a spatula as it cooks. (You want the sausage to be like ground meat.) Remove from heat, and drain excess fat.
Add another 1/2 cup of olive oil, the cooked pasta and (very important) a ladle-full of the starchy pasta water. Stir the pasta and the sausage together until well coated. Finally, add the broccoli and a last 1/2 cup of olive oil, and cook covered for 4 more minutes.