Can the culinary arts become a bridge to the Casa Nova hostels of the Holy Land? | Custodia Terrae Sanctae

Can the culinary arts become a bridge to the Casa Nova hostels of the Holy Land?

The second phase of the joint program that began last November with the Alberghiero Perotti Institute of Bari ended recently at Casa Nova.

This initiative holds a special message, a message that goes beyond the culinary arts to become a bridge uniting different cultures and building new relationships, planting seeds of peace and hope among the young and the less young who during these days have reigned in the kitchen of the Casa Nova.

In Jerusalem, where different religions, languages, and cultures are interwoven daily, the art of good cooking involves knowing how to find the right ingredients in the right proportion so that together they become a pleasing, unified whole. It is no accident that this project took place at Casa Nova, an institution of the Custody of the Holy Land, which is charged with the mission of protecting and supporting, not only the Holy Places, but also the Living Stones who live here.

This is the provocative and stimulating message that Fra Raffaele Caputo, who had the inspiration for the project, proposed to the Alberghieri Institute: not only Italians, but people from the world over, would in the future be included and share in the project.

Fra Raffaele Caputo, director of the Franciscan pilgrims hostel, had the idea and was supported in it by the always solicitous attention of Fra Pio Dandola, Holy Land Commissioner of Apulia (Puglia).

Local ingredients, manipulated with magisterial knowledge and professional expertise - curiosity, and the strong desire to work together did the rest!

During their week in the kitchen, Angelo, Danilo, and Gianluigi, high school students preparing for their matric exam, worked under the vigilant gaze of Chef Domenico Maggi and the maitre d', Michele Ciliberti, cooking and serving delicious, colorful dishes alongside the Casa Nova personnel:
Insalata di gamberi, mele e sedano, Crepes con salmone e verdure miste, Rotolo di celestina con tonno e pomodoro, Capresine con feta e mozzarella, Messicanine alla Casa Nova, Assiette di Gerusalemme, Melanzanine e farcite e gratinate, Frittelle, Focaccia e Pizza al pomodoro, cipolla e bianca….Pasticcio di lasagne al forno, Crepes con bolognese, Fusilli con fagiolini e pomodoro fresco, Pennette alla pizzaiola, Maccheroncini ai quattro formaggi. E…. dulcis in fundo, l’ angolo pasticceria curato da Angelo con la Coppa Perotti, una mousse al melograno, Sfogliatelle con crema pasticcera, panna e fragole, Fagottini di pasta filo con mele, Pastiera di ricotta, Crostate di marmellate assortite, preparata da suor Luss gusti, Frangipane…

Mouthwatering! Lucky Casa Nova guests, to be served such delicacies!

With mornings given to the rhythms of work, the afternoons were dedicated to visits to the Holy Places in and near Jerusalem. Students and teachers, accompanied by friars and by Luigina, the volunteer who takes care of Maria Bambina, the former girls orphanage of the Custody where the young people were housed, had outings to the Dead Sea, Bethlehem, and the Galilee, to become more familiar with the history of this Land, and to see the origins of our Christian heritage.

Angelo, Danilo and Gianluigi, Michele and Domenico went back to Bari, tired from the extraordinary rhythm of life in the Holy Land, to take up their own lives again, enriched by their new experiences in families and schools. They will certainly make time to come back and strengthen their new relationships.

Yesterday the Custos, Fra Pierbattista Pizzaballa, made a welcome surprise visit to the staff at work. It was an occasion to meet and get to know the Italians, to greet the Casa Nova personnel, and to taste the food that was being prepared. What a shame that the pizza and focaccia weren't ready yet!