When I hear “St. Joseph’s Day” I am immediately transported back to my teenage years. Specifically, the mid-to-late 90’s, during my just-shy-of-a-decade tenure at Topps Pastry Shop under the Robbie and Ralph regime. These were the days when Seal’s “Kissed by a Rose” and Big Pun’s “I’m Not a Player” would play incessantly on Z100. Sigh.
Every March, Topps would sell Zeppole and Sfingi in honor of St. Joseph’s Day. Our regulars would go gaga for these round, cherry-topped, fried dough pastries stuffed with cream and cannoli fillings respectively, then finished with a dusting of powdered sugar. Pretentious customers would try to correct us sales girls on our pronunciation (“it’s sfeeeeeeen-geee” and “not zep, “zay-pole-lay”), and it would drive us mad, mad, mad. So when I stepped inside Antico Forno Roscioli a couple of weeks ago to see a beautiful tray of “Le Zeppole,” I giggled as I immediately thought of
Mrs. Baron the pronunciation sticklers from Topps, and when today rolled around, I couldn’t resist heading over there once again to actually partake in this centuries-old tradition in its motherland.
Honestly, considering the amount of time I have associated zeppole with St. Joseph’s Day (17 years at least, Lord I’m old!), I really don’t know much about how and why this tradition started, but what I do know (thank you, Catholic school!) is that St. Joseph is the patron saint of fathers so I thought I would just say how truly lucky I am to have my dad and my godfather–Uncle Nick!–in my life. They’re awesome and I love them, and I can’t wait to spend time with them here in Rome at some point.
Okay, gotta go now…there’s a zeppole waiting for me.