Cooking for the Pope

I saw a wonderful article on the site of Catholic World Report:

Mother who cooked for Pope recalls his paternal care

Madrid, Spain, Feb 18, 2013 / 12:04 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A woman who helped cook for the Pope during his visit to Spain in 2011 said the Holy Father looked at those who prepared his meal the way that she looks at her children.

During Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Madrid for World Youth Day, a group of teachers from the Fuenllana School prepared lunch for him.

Diana Cabrera, a mother of three, teacher and host of a cooking show on Spanish television, was among those who helped cook for the Holy Father at the request of Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela of Madrid.

Cabrera affectionately recalls the encounter with the Pope and said that what most impressed her was “how detached and humble he was, always attentive to others, looking at them in the same way that I look at my children.”

“He was continuously observing and attentive to all the details and all the people that were around him,” she explained in a press release from the education center. “I saw that he cared for them, he seemed to rise above to the spiritual level of those who were around him and those of us who were serving him.”

I could tell by how he looked that he realized how excited we were to be working for him,” she continued. “I was amazed that despite the fatigue and the hot temperatures that day in Madrid, (the Pope) was attentive to others.”

Cabrera described the Holy Father as “the most important person I have ever served” and said that to see him was to “see a very spiritual person” who was filled with immense peace.

She explained that the spirituality, joy and humility the Pope conveyed “both with his presence and with his gaze” impressed her greatly.

Although she was initially very nervous about the lunch, Cabrera recalled that once Pope Benedict arrived, her “nerves were gone, because he conveyed such peace that he made you feel like you were with someone from your family.”

After lunch, the Pope “unexpectedly got up and came towards us and told us in Italian: ‘That was the best meal of my life, the food was so beautifully prepared, and that beauty leads to God,’” she said.

The menu that day featured salmorejo (a Spanish soup made with olive oil, vinegar and tomatoes), veal with vegetables and a dessert of lemon sorbet and jello.

The director of communications at Fuenllana, Carmen Calvo, told CNA on Feb.15 that wine was offered to the Holy Father, but he declined and preferred to drink orange juice. He asked for a copy of the menu to have as a memento, Calvo said.

All of the items used to prepare the lunch were donated by supporters of the school, and nearly 40 volunteers – including cooks and waiters – served the Pope and his entourage of approximately 60 people.

The school’s principal gave the Holy Father a donation of nearly $6000 to help pay the expenses of a new vocation to the seminary resulting from World Youth Day 2011. She also gave him a photo album about the school and a small statue of Our Lady of Fuenllana.

Cabrera said that after the experience, “I resolved to spread that joy and happiness that I saw in the Holy Father to those around me, and I know as a Catholic that that is precisely what our faith teaches.”

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. disco says:

    Stories like this make the rubbish written about our beloved holy father in the mainstream press all the more difficult to tolerate.

  2. Ignatius says:

    After reading this, my admiration for Benedict XVI has suffered a decline:

    He declined a glass of Rioja with a Spanish meal?? He ate the veal with “orange juice”???

    [Unicuique suum.]

  3. sbvarenne says:

    What a lovely story about Pope Benedict. And I give the woman who wrote it great credit for being so appreciative and tuned in herself to the spiritual dimension of love and appreciation that informs the pope’s own spirit. I enjoy cooking, especially for my family, and I always feel like I am doing something almost sacramental when I prepare a good meal. We need to be nourished and to serve good food is an act of love. I like to see people eat with appreciation the food that has been prepared for them, giving thanks to those who made the effort to please them. A good meal lifts up the heart and it seems natural to thank God at such a moment for the goodness of this life. Even more than the food itself, I am sure Pope Benedict appreciated the love and the care of those who prepared it for him. God bless him and all of them.

  4. Scarltherr says:

    As someone who recently had to give up the vino, I feel the Holy Father’s pain. I love that he saved a copy of the menu. I’m sure he prayed over it for the cooks. God bless him.

  5. Well, now, that says it all! Glory to God for His saints who dwell in the flesh in our midst!

  6. Animadversor says:

    Jello? Perhaps membrillo, but surely not jello, or even Jello. Well, maybe with the Fanta.

  7. Stumbler but trying says:

    I read this particular story with great delight as well a few hours ago and am glad Fr. Z, you have shared it here on your blog with everyone. I find it a sweet story that adds to the appeal and wonderful persona of our beloved Papa, a man fully alive while giving all the glory to God!

  8. benedetta says:

    I really enjoyed reading this article, thank you for posting it.

  9. NBW says:

    Thank you for sharing the article Fr. Z. May God Bless Pope Benedict XVI always!

  10. FloridaJoan says:

    Father Z: Thank you for this wonderful article about our loving Papa . We will surely miss him, think of him often and fondly and pray for him always.
    pax et bonum

  11. Suburbanbanshee says:

    If it was a hot day, the Holy Father was probably drinking OJ as gatorade. (And if he does have heart problems, he probably couldn’t drink wine with his meds.)

  12. MangiaMamma says:

    This was a sweet story. I get the joyful opportunity of cooking every few months for our parish priest and the priests from around our area at his “priests’ luncheon”. The first time I cooked in October of last year, I was really nervous and excited too. I can only begin to imagine how those women felt getting to cook for our Holy Father!

  13. stpetric says:

    I am especially charmed by his asking for a copy of the menu to have as a memento.

  14. Joan M says:

    This is a lovely story. It only confirms my thoughts about our Holy Father. I’m sure all those who came into such close contact with him will treasures these memories.

  15. teomatteo says:

    This item reminds me of a comment that the Holy Father made when he visited America. The t.v chef(?) Lidia of PBS/Create prepared his lunch and she was very nervous and after the meal he came to her and thanked her with the statement: “these are my mother’s flavors” . She was moved very much by that compliment.

  16. CPT TOM says:

    What a great story. The Holy Father has always impressed me as a gentle and caring soul. This falls in line with stories of little children running up to him and the Pope treating them grace and kindness. The children know don’t they?

  17. TomG says:

    teomatteo: Lidia Bastianich is the chef – and she is amazing. And our Holy Father deserved it.

  18. StJude says:

    ‘That was the best meal of my life, the food was so beautifully prepared, and that beauty leads to God,’” wow! what a compliment! I love that. That one line says so much for his kindness, care for others and mostly pointing everything he does back to God.
    He will be so missed.

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