The Mexican Fermented Pineapple Soda, From a Cincy Guatemalan Market for a Kentucky Fusion Cocktail

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Who says Cincinnati has no diversity?    I never have.     But you may never experience it if you don’t venture out of your neighborhood.  Two weekends ago I learned how to make real fermented German Kraut from a Belarusian immigrant, Gary Leybman, at his wonderful restaurant The Pickled Pig in East Walnut Hills.   I just tasted it two weeks in and its the best kraut I’ve ever had!    Gary recommended going online to check out instructional videos of  other fermented products.      I’m now a total ferment geek and will never be without fresh kraut.

So one of my classmates did his homework and found a fermented pineapple soda called Tepache that’s very popular in Mexico and has an immense history.     A text of a bourbon-tepache cocktail recipe from my kraut classmate sent me on a treasure hunt.   I had been exploring Price Hill and Fairmont for another project recently, and I noticed a number of Mexican and Guatemalan bodegas, markets and taquerias in abundance there.     So, instead of going to Jungle Jim’s I thought I’d explore them to find Tepache and test my terrible Spanish.

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On the way down Lick Run at Quebec, I noticed a Guatemalan market with no name, only an address, in an 1890s Italianate building.     All the product signs in the windows were in Spanish, so I knew I had a chance of finding my soda.   As I parked in the lot, I passed three workers chowing on what looked and smelled like awesome tacos from a Taqueria truck parked outside, talking in Spanish.     I walked in the non-airconditioned market, passing a shelf full of intriguing spicy puffed cheeto-like snacks, all labelled in Spanish.      But that’s an exploration for another time.

I greeted the checkout girl with a friendly “Ola” that she echoed.       Then, I shyly hobbled together a sentence – “Yo quiero una cola de Mexico llamada Tepache.”      She sort of smirked and took me to the cola aisle, which had popular sodas from Mexico, Guatamela, and other Latin American countries.   It was a smorgasbord of wild flavors we don’t have in the U.S.  and most I couldn’t pronounce.   Sure enough, there on the second shelf was my fermented pineapple Tepache.    So I left, armed with my find, eager to taste test the Kentucky-Mexican fusion cocktail with my friend.     The Bon Appetit recipe refers to it as a Bourbon-Tepache cocktail, which means I get to name it.   I dub it the Lick Run Chapito.

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Tepache is very popular soda in Mexico, and although its available commercially, many Mexicans make it at home.   It’s fairly easy.     Taking one pineapple, one cuts off the top and bottom, leaving on the skin and cutting into small chunks.    It’s recommended not to wash the skin as good bacteria and yeast on the outside help with fermentation.    Put this in a fermenting jar with water to cover all the chunks, throw in a few cloves, a cup of Mexican piloncillo sugar, and shake it up to dissolve the sugar.    Other spice variants replace cloves with ginger root and cinnamon sticks.    Piloncillo is pure, unrefined cane sugar commonly used in  Mexican cooking.   It’s sold in cones and has a deep molasses flavor, even though it doesn’t have molasses in it.     Brown sugar is a substitute, but it is made from refined white sugar with molasses added.     Let the concoction ferment for three days and enjoy chilled by itself or with your favorite bourbon and a few dashes of angusturo bitters.    If you let it ferment much longer than four days it will become pineapple vinegar, not what we’re looking for.

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Tepache dates from pre-Columbian Mexico, as a popular drink among the Nahua people of Central Mexico.   The Aztec word tepiatl, means drink made of corn, as the Tepache was originally made of fermented maize.    There are a variety of commercial brands of Tepache in Mexico.     The brand that I found in Lick Run is made by Frumex Corporation, branded Tepachito, and  contains 10% pineapple juice fermented with the skins, but not made with barley, as some of the other brands use.     Mexicans drink it in the summer chilled by itself, or mixing it 2/3 Tepache with 1/3 lager beer or Hefeweizen.   It also pairs nicely with spiced rum, tequila, or mezcal.

I look forward to enjoying the Lick Run Chapito on the back porch this summer and exploring the abundance of Latin groceries on the West Side.

 

 

The Great Cheese Puff Debate

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To initiate the holiday weekend and summer picnics, a friend of mine threw a backyard cookout on Friday. This group of friends are all foodies, and everything was amped up. Burgers were fresh ground beef from a beloved local market, served with home made egg buns. There was eggless seitan curry egg salad for the vegans. There was jalapeno bacon potato salad. And there was a German quark cheese dip called Huttenkase mit schnitlauck. The cooler was filled with beers, sours and ciders from local craft breweries. Urban Artifact’s Pickle Beer floated in ice next to Rhinegheist’s Wowie, or Bubbles 2.0, as we like to call it.

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One of our saltiest foodie friends admitted freely, not under duress – that he liked the new white cheese jalapeno Cheetos. He also admitted he had eaten squirrel and liked it. This is a guy who will walk out of a microbrewery if he’s served a Kolsch that tastes more like a nut brown ale, and scoffs at LaRosa’s pizza and its over-sweet sauce. And that’s what I like about humanity – the little unexpected idiosyncrasies that defy our known personas and make us human and a little bit wonky. No one could have predicted this confessional from our foodie friend. But it brought all of us cheese puff, Cheeto, and cheese curl lovers out of the closet to begin the Great Cheese Puff Debate.

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So the discussion began. The first item for argument was what form is best to deliver a puffed, cheese flavored crunchy snack – a curl, a ball, or an irregular, stick, like the Cheeto. Full disclosure – I am in the cheeseball camp. I think the curl is too large and irregular and deposits more cheese globules on the inside surface of the teeth. And there’s something very unnatural to me in the crunch of a Cheeto. One friend is convinced that Utz makes the best cheeseball on the market today. And she likes that they come in a huge 35 oz. plastic tub. I stood my ground that the old Eagle Snacks made the best, crunchiest, yet greasiest cheese ball and I have stopped eating them since Eagle snacks left the industry.   Another friend contended that Planter’s had the best cheeseballs, but when they brought them back they weren’t as crunchy and greasy as the originals, so not the original recipe.

There were side conversations about whether it was best to wait till the end of your gorge to lick the Dayglo orange dust off your fingers, or continuously lick during your munchfest. There was also a  challenge to try the new Grippos cheese nibs – so a cheese puff roundup is in order.    By the way I love that Grippos uses the term ‘nibs’ to name their puffed cheese snack – it’s very market distinguishing.

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We didn’t care that these snacks are heat-extruded, corn based dough with a high glycemic index, way over-salted for our middle-aged body chemistries, and employ unnatural neon orange artificial coloring that has been used to describe our current president. And, although there was no consensus on whose puff, curl, ball or stick was the best – we could all agree that the Cheese puff is a truly American snack that has stood the test of time, and one of which we are proud to enjoy.     Maybe there should be a red-white-and-blue cheese puff for July 4th.

Frank Duveneck – The Accidental Civil War Sutler

 

Photo of Frank Duveneck, 1867, and one of his first canvas paintings, 1860s, perhaps biographical depiction of him as a young boy.

At the beginning of the Civil War, our beloved local painter Frank Duveneck was an impressionable 12 year old boy.   He was living with his stepfather, Joseph Duveneck and mother Mary Siemers, and nearly 8 siblings in Covington, Kentucky.    Joseph was a successful and respected business man, owning two microbreweries that made common ale, and operating a beer garden next to their home.  But, during the Civil War, it was a struggle to keep the beer garden and breweries afloat, as many of the local men were off fighting the war.    And, there were many mouths to feed in their family.     Frank’s early life was well documented by his daughter-in-law Josephine, in her book Painter–Teacher.

Even though Kentucky was neutral, the Duvenecks were Union sympathizers.   Young Frank would run out of the house with a bucket and dipper to quench the thirst of Union troops marching by their house on the way to the front.    To make ends meet, Mrs. Duveneck would bake pies and send Frank to deliver them in his express wagon to the officers at the Union Camp on 18th Street in Covington.   This of course, was before 12 years olds needed livery licenses to operate horse drawn wagons!   We do not know what type of pies Mrs. Duveneck made for the officers, but they must have been good if he was allowed in numerous times. He would exchange them with the officers for coffee and meat for the family.   So, young Duveneck became a camp rat, something that he would reminisce about in his letters to family while he was studying in Munich many years later.    He was fascinated by the characters he met and the activities he could observe of camp lifestyle.   Even though civilians were not supposed to hang around the camp, the officers seemed to be ok with Frank.     How great would it be to have an early camp sketchbook of Duveneck’s from those days?

Another time, Frank and his father, became accidental sutlers to the Confederate side, when accosted on a trip from their second brewery.      Joseph Duveneck owned a small second brewery in a small town, now lost to time, called Volturce, Kentucky, which was about a day’s ride from Covington.    He and Frank would drive their huckster wagon to the brewery every couple of weeks to get fresh supplies, stopping along the way to deliver goods and news to farmers.

One trip, when they were about halfway home, they heard the sound of horses behind them, and were soon surrounded by a band of Confederates.    The leader of this band was none other than John Hunt Morgan, who was on his raid through Kentucky, Indiana, and southwest Ohio.   Joseph pleaded with them to only take his beer, as he had a large family and needed the horses and wagon.      The raiders complied and only took the Duveneck’s beer.     Frank retold the story years later, remembering how decent a man Morgan was, and how fine his horse was.    Unfortunately the Duveneck beer quenched and refreshed these vagabond raiders, causing the involvement of about 20,000 Union Troops either trailing them or guarding against their possible arrival.

There was very little opportunity for artistic pursuits for Frank during the Civil War, except in sign painting.   At the time the larger homes in Covington had brass plates engraved with the names of the inhabitants, often in very artistic script.   Frank would use clay to run up and take impressions of these plaques to make stamps to study their writing.  He had painted a large sign for his father’s beer garden.   In florid script it noted Joseph Duveneck Beer Garden, also depicting a beer mug, a sausage, and a loaf of rye bread.    The butcher who supplied the sausages to the beer garden, was a frequent visitor to the gardens, admired the sign and asked Frank to paint one for his business.   Frank painted a magnificent pig’s head, a chain of link sausages and a forboding butcher’s knife.    Other Covington merchants commissioned Frank to paint signs for their businesses, and he was able to contribute to his family during the war as both a camp sutler and sign painter.

The Antebellum Pork Packing Salt Being Brought Back to Cincy by a Craft Kraut Maker

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Over the weekend I  took Pickled Pig’s inaugural Kraut 101 class.    I was excited to learn how to ferment one of my favorite German dishes.     Gary Leybman, the owner, talked about how important using good, unadulterated sea salt is to the flavor and the fermentation.    Most sea salts have anti-caking agents – like aluminosilicate –  and other preservatives that add weird flavor notes and can slow down fermentation.

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Gary Leybman of the Pickled Pig teaching us how to cut our kraut cabbage before salting it.

Gary uses an all natural sea salt with no preservatives from a company called J.Q. Dickinson, in Malden, West Virginia, in the Kanawha River Valley.     They call it a  well-to-jar salt because it’s pumped from a well with access to a 400 million year old ocean underneath the Alleghany Mountains,  called the Iapetus.

The company is owned by brother and sister, Nancy Bruns and Lewis Payne, who are seventh generation descendants of William Dickinson.

Dickinson heard people in Kanawha, Virginia, (it became West Virginia during the Civil War) had been boiling brine from springs to make salt and he bought properties there.    The Native Americans were the first to make salt in the area, when they noticed their horses licking the brine from natural springs.  Dickinson first dug a well for mining this ancient sea salt in 1817 on the farm where Nancy and Lewis now harvest their own Iapetus salt.   By 1850, there were more than a hundred wells along the Kanawha River, producing over three million bushels of salt a year, making it the largest salt producing region in the U.S.    And Malden, West Virginia, on the farm where he made his salt, and where his seventh great grandchildren now make it,  became known as the Salt Capital of the East.

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They even market the nigari –  the mother liquor left after harvesting the salt – as Dr. Dickinson’s Hangover Helper.   The name sounds Japanese, because this is what is used in Japan to coagulate soy during its production.   The liquid is rich in 74 minerals that help revive the body with electrolytes after a night of heavy drinking.

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Before the Civil War, this Dickinson salt was provided to the over 100 pork and meat packers of Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, who used it to cure their hams, salt pork, and bacon.    With the Kanawha being a tributary to the Ohio and the Mississippi Rivers, it was fast steamboat trade to Cincinnati and as far away as New Orleans.    Kanawa salt was marketed as adding better flavor to meats, curing it faster, and an insurance against souring and spoiling.   Before Cincinnati meat makers were curing bacon with Grippos potato chip spices, they were curing it with Dickinson Salt.    It was the salt industry that lead to the coal and later natural gas industries that built our nation.

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J. Q. Dickinson is only about a three hour drive from Cincinnati and offers tours of their salt making facility.    They also host monthly farm-to-table dinners from some of the amazing restaurants in the area.    And William Dickinson even shows up in period garb to tell the story of his business.  So I am headed there this summer for a weekend to taste the fresh wonders of West Virginia and its cuisine.

An Old Italian Sandwich Vendor and the Creepiest Statue in Sacred Heart Church

 

This morning I visited Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Camp Washington.    Its school lunchroom next door is the scene of a beloved 108 year old ravioli and spaghetti dinner.   The handmade spinach ravioli they serve are delicious pockets of joy. They’re the last remnant of a once massive Cincinnati Italian community who started Italian immigrant food businesses like Pasquale’s and LaRosa’s Pizza, and Caproni’s and Scotti’s Restaurants.  People wait in line for up to an hour just to taste this local Italian delicacy twice a year.

Today I was there not to gorge spinach ravioli, but to photograph the murals painted above the altar in 1893 by German immigrant artist Edward Heinemann.   At that time the church ministered to a mostly German immigrant congregation.    The Italian Sacred Heart Church on Broadway merged with this German congregation in Camp Washington in about 1969.   While photographing the paintings I was stopped in my tracks by the creepiest statue I have ever seen.     At first glance the female saint looks like any normal statue.  She holds a palm frond in her right hand and is dressed in the robes of an early Christian martyr.   That’s all cool until you realize in her other hand she holds a plate with two human eyeballs.    Gradeschool religion classes taught me that there were some pretty gruesome martyrdoms, but this statue should have had a warning.   My sister makes great bloody hard boiled egg eyes with olives inserted for retinas at her Halloween parties.   These reminded me of them.   It was startling.

I’d never seen this representation of a saint so had to find out who she was.   But then I noticed an interesting plaque at the foot of the pedestal on which she was standing.   It didn’t ID her, but was inscribed “In Memory of Sam Gatto, from the Employees of the Cincinnati Post.”   Ok, I was sure there was a great story behind this, and like a clue from a Dan Brown novel, I knew exactly where to look.

I first learned she was St. Lucy – or Santa Lucia to the Italians.    She was a rich Sicilian girl, who gave all her money to the poor, vowed to be a virgin and was tortured by the gouging of her eyes by Emperor Diocletian for being a Christian, and refusing to marry a pagan suitor in about 300 AD.   She is the patroness of the blind and those with eye ailments.  She’s also the patroness of authors and journalists, so an appropriate choice from the employees of the Cincinnati Post.   The faithful pray to her for cures of eye ailments and for pure thought, which journalists today should continue to heed.   Her saint’s day is December 13, and Italians celebrate by not eating bread on this day.

I like the Scandinavian version of her much better.   In Sweden, she’s a beautiful blonde in a white gown, wearing an evergreen crown with lit candles.   A young girl usually dresses as her, carrying a plate of goodies to be passed out (mostly iced cardamom buns) with a host of other girls and boys serenading.   But leave it to the Italians to be more maudlin with their representation.

Of course the day – January 20, 1954 – when the statue was hoisted into place at the now demolished  Italian Sacred Heart Church on Broadway, the Post had an article about Sam and this tribute to him.    The subline read, “Old Sam Gatto was a stubby old Italian sandwich vendor who never did much for the world except love everybody.  If he liked one type of person more than another, he especially like the people who worked for newspapers.”

At the time of his death, Sam Gatto was a widow, without any children, living at the Browne Hotel on Sixth and Elm Streets, and attended mass at Sacred Heart.   Fr. Louis Bolzan, the pastor of the church, had a close connection with St. Lucia.   The church in his hometown in Italy was named for her.  Before coming to Sacred Heart he built the St. Lucia Church in Chicago.    I wonder if there’s a creepy eye-holding St. Lucia statue there too.    So when the Post employees came to Fr. Bolzan for a suggestion of a statue tribute, he already had the perfect choice.   And, what a testament to this Sam Gatto that in less than a month after his death on New Years Eve 1954, a collection was taken, a statue purchased, placed and dedicated to him.

Sam Gatto was born in Cincinnati in 1873, to Italian immigrant Gianni Gatto.   Like Buddy LaRosa’s father and grandfather, Gianni Gatto was a fruit vendor at one of the many public markets in downtown Cincinnati, probably the Fifth Street Market.   Sam started his career as a manager of a plumbing supply company.  But for over twenty years Gatto operated a lunch room at 218 Post Square, across from the offices of the Cincinnati Post Newspaper.    So, his lunchroom became a hangout for newsies.   He gave them beer and meals on credit, gave them the run of the cash register, and gave them lectures when needed.     Known as “Gat” and “The Unofficial Mayor of Post Square,”  his lunchroom became known as Paddle Casino, because he made his customers write IOUs on the wooden paddles or spoons he served with the ice cream.   There were several articles about his positive attitude – after being burglarized numerous times – and his generosity – in some cases trusting customers to lock up at night and help themselves after he left to finish their games of dominos.

Two days after his death a morning High Requiem Mass was said at St. Xavier downtown, not at Sacred Heart, because it was closer to his ‘family’ at the Post.  Without any kids, he gave his estate to his two nieces Virginia and Catherina, and a goddaughter.    The Post article said, “Looking at it (the statue) made you feel pretty good.   Except that a lot of people were going to see that statue years from now and not know who Sam Gatto was.”   When the Italian congregation moved from the Broadway church to Camp Washington in 1969, they brought two pieces of art – the Mural of Italian Immigrants painted in 1933 by Italian-Chicagoan Angelo Cangelosi (which hangs in the dining hall of the ravioli dinners) and the creepy eyeball-holding statue in memorium to Sam Gatto.

 

The Delhi Cheese Dip of the Area’s Pioneer Dairymen From Baden

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Cottage cheese dip – known as Huttenkuse mit schnittlauch in Switzerland and Alsace Lorraine- cottage cheese with chives.

When Klawitter’s Restaurant and Beer Garden in Delhi was demolished in 1974, the Enquirer referenced an interesting German dish.   “Klawitter’s is gone now, along with evenings of good German music and beer.   No more cottage cheese with schnitlock (top of green onion) from the restaurant.”      We have heard about the many German taverns of Over-the-Rhine, but its rare to get a glimpse of what a ‘country’ German Cincinnati tavern’ looked like at the turn of the century.   When I saw this I thought I had uncovered a forgotten culinary gold mine.   Was cottage cheese mit schnitlock the West Side’s version of Kentucky Beer Cheese, or the south’s Pimento Cheese.      Could we reinvigorate a long forgotten regional German-Cincinnati Cheese dip?   Thanks to the amazing Delhi Historical Society and their features on the tavern, and some online sleuthing I was able to find out.

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In front of Klawitter’s Tavern, 1895. On horse is Henry Reimerink, Kate Kuper Klawitter (Proprietress), baby is Clara Miller, Theresa Reimerink-Miller Alyward, Anna Miller, Eduard Klawitter (Proprietor), dog, Joseph Klawitter, John Barnhorst, Herman Nutter (note the wooden shoes Nutter is  wearing, worn by the many floral gardeners of Delhi – consider them the German ‘crocs’ – and probably made by Valentin Bestil, a manufacturer of wooden shoes in Delhi in 1900)

Klawitters had been an iconic place for Delhi residents since 1895 when Eduard Klawitter and Katie Kuper Klawitter purchased it in 1895 from John and Lillie Brune.  It was right across the street on Neeb road from Our Lady of Victory Catholic Church, the first German Catholic Church on the West Side of Cincinnati.   So every kid who went to school at OLV knew it as a place to get candy or a ham sandwich after school.   Their fathers knew it as a place to get a cold Hudepohl beer, get hardware they needed, or catch up on the local news.    It was like a grocery, hardware store, department store, saloon, and party hall rolled into one.

 

The French-Bauer Dairies were in Delhi, where The Farm Reception Hall is on Anderson Ferry today.

It’s not so far fetched that Delhi would have a cottage cheese dip, given all the German dairymen who farmed in the hills that bordered the Ohio River.    In 1900 in Delhi, there were the dairies of Joseph Witsken, Joesph Behne, George Brosse, Henry Broxterman, Anthony Burhmann, Wilhelm Duebber, Gerhard Fennon, Fred Hunsicker, William Krebs, Henrich Wiegaus, and August Wuellner, to name a few.     The dairy farmers used the spent grain from the breweries of Over-the-Rhine to feed their dairy cows.    It was carted onto the Price Hill incline and loaded up the hill and transported by wagon to the farms of Delhi.

They all made cottage cheese, and there were plenty of wild onions growing on their farms to chop into chives to herb the cottage cheese.     The cottage cheese must have been amazing – before pasteurization requirements,  brewery grain-fed, and free range.   The herbed cottage cheese would have been well known to the Delhi residents from lower Baden, which borders Switzerland and the Alsace Lorrain region of France, where I found that Huttenkase mit Schnittlauch is sold and enjoyed today.

 

 

The variety of brands of herbed cottage cheese – Hutenkase mit Schnittlauch – found today in Switzerland, Baden and Alsace Lorraine.

Berta Myers, a Delhi native farmgirl, wrote her recollections of her family providing cottage cheese to Klawitter’s Tavern from 1908-1917:

“During the summer months every Monday and Thursday was spent preparing the produce raised on the farm for marketing. …Mom took a wagon load of vegetables, fruits, eggs, butter, cottage cheese and buttermilk to our closest suburb, a three-mile trip. One of Mom’s customers was a woman who, with her husband ran a saloon. We’d arrive around noon and sometimes Mom would get ham sandwiches for our lunch. Big slabs of fresh rye bread and layers of delicious ham for a nickel.”

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While adults could drink Hudepohl beer, kids had a choice of three drinks: mineral water, white or red Dewey, and sarsaparilla.    The Klawitters added a party barn, where many wedding receptions were held, and a bowling alley.    One unfortunate man, John Reimerink, met his death at the end of a ten pin to the skull, from his brother-in-law in front of the tavern.

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Mrs. Frank, chief cook at Klawitter’s Restaurant in the 40s and 50s.

A Mrs. Frank was the chief cook and caterer for Klawitter’s Restaurant and the party barn in the 40s and 50s, who proliferated the cottage cheese and schnittloch they served. It’s not known if she or her family were from lower Baden, or maybe she just continued a long standing tradition of the area.

I think  the Crow’s Nest should bring back the old Delhi Dip – huttenkase mit schnitlauch – and add it to their menu.

 

White Zinfandel – The “Secret” to Fr. Angelo Caserta’s Century-Old Italian Supreme Sauce

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A painting of Fr. Caserta by artist Cecilia Brendel, who painted interiors of St. Boniface Church in Piqua, Ohio, and Incarnation in Dayton, Ohio.

It’s not too many priests who have the opportunity to serve for over 70 years, and even fewer who live to be over 100 years old.    Even fewer are known for their secret Sicilian pasta sauce that comes from an over 100 year old family recipe.    Some say the sauce is even better on pizza than pasta.   That is the legacy of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati’s oldest priest, Fr. Angelo Caserta, who passed away yesterday at 100 years, five months.      But, for someone whose life was devoted to serving, there are really no secrets.   He lovingly shared his recipes (below) for the sauce, meatballs, and other delicious recipes for which he was famous.

The secret to his sauce:  white zinfandel – the needed sweet acid so many forget to add.   And, the secret to his meatballs:  Old Bay seasoning, anise seeds, and Bob Evans spicy sausage.

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Fr. Caserta rolling the meatballs.

Angelo Caserta grew up in a very Sicilian, very devoutly Catholic family, with 10 other siblings, son of Charles Caserta and Nunciatina “Nancy” Cipriano.   When Caserta’s father, Charles came through Ellis Island from Messina, Sicily,  they told him to change his first name from Carmello to Charles.   He met his wife, also from Sicily (Palermo), in Piqua, and in 1916-ish they started the Charles Caserta Restaurant, still in business in Piqua, Ohio, at 331 South Roosevelt, two blocks from their ancestral home on Wood Street.

After graduating valedictorian in 1936 from Piqua Catholic High School, he worked for his father’s restaurant, store, and catering business.   Here he learned the art of dealing with people, and how to make the wonderful Sicilian dishes he shared with thousands of people over his 70 years.

 

Charles Caserta’s Restaurant in Piqua, Ohio, today.

He was called away from the sauce in 1937 and spent four years studying philosophy at St. Gregory Seminary in Mt. Washington, and then four years of theology at Mt. St. Mary in Norwood.    The Archbishop of Cincinnati chose him to study two more years in Rome, where all classes were taught in Latin, and he was ordained a diocesan priest by Archbishop McNicholas, on February 24, 1945, only a few months before World War II ended.

He first taught math to students at St. Gregory Seminary, and then served administrative duties, until becoming Dean.   He was assigned pastor in 1970 of St. Lawrence Church in Price Hill until 1984, and then was back at his home parish of St. Boniface in Piqua, where he served until he ‘retired.’

A record of someone’s healing through prayer with him in life has been recorded.   Another record of healing attributed to him in life or after life, could make Fr. Caserta eligible for sainthood.     He was out of town and he and a female parishioner, who was diagnosed with a rare form of cervical cancer, prayed together on the phone after her second operation for God’s healing.   She remembers, “I broke out in a sweat and I felt like I was talking to God. Father said that he would not be surprised if the cancer was gone.” The doctor was amazed to find out that the cancer was completely gone.

Fr. Angelo Caserta will be remembered by the thousands of parishioners in the Archdiocese  of Cincinnati – from Piqua to Price Hill – whom he fed with his counsel and his pasta sauce.

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Fr. Caserta’s Italian Supreme Pasta Sauce
Everyone who makes pasta sauce feels that he or she has the best recipe. The difference lies in the kinds and amounts of ingredients used in making the sauce. This is Father Caserta’s secret:
1 can (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes
1 can (28 oz.) diced tomatoes
6 oz. can tomato paste
3 tbsp. garlic powder or minced garlic
3 tbsp. onion powder
3 tbsp. basil
2 tbsp. oregano
1 cup fresh parsley
1 diced medium onion
6 oz. extra virgin olive oil
6 oz. of a semi sweet wine (like zinfandel)
Cook on low to medium low heat for at least 4 to 6 hours. (Diced green peppers and sliced mushrooms are optional, but highly recommended. If using mushrooms first sauté them in olive oil for 15 minutes.) Use of mixed Italian spices not recommended!
Meatballs
Meatballs could be ½ pork sausage and ½ ground round or sirloin, or all-beef, or all-sausage; the all sausage meatballs seem to many the best! yet to others the ½ and ½! yet to others the all-beef. When using sausage (hot or regular) Bob Evans is highly recommended. For best results:
2 lbs. of one of the above meat options
1 egg
10 oz. (by volume, not weight) parmesan cheese
2 tsp Old Bay spice
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp onion powder
½ tsp pepper
(Optional 2 tsp anise seeds or powder)
No bread crumbs used (the Italians used bread because of the high price of meat!). Before putting meatballs in the sauce, bake in the oven for 15 minutes at 350°; place in sauce about 1 hour before serving (by cooking any longer meatballs lose much of their flavor). Enjoy!
If you make your own pizza or if you buy frozen pizza, try some of the above sauce on it!