January 28th is the feast of St. Thomas Aquinas. This is a post Daniel wrote for our woefully neglected real food liturgical year blog a couple of years ago. This meal was amazing. Reading the writing of St. Thomas had a huge impact on our conversion, so he holds a special place in my heart. Happy Feast!
Thomas was a 13th century Dominican priest and scholar from Aquino, Italy who made gigantic contributions to theology, philosophy, and Academia. For these reasons he was made a Doctor of the Church, a recognition of his importance and the trustworthiness of all of his teachings. Even secular scholars consider him to be one of the most important Western thinkers. It would be difficult to overstate his genius and holiness. However, towards the end of his life, Christ visited Thomas while he was celebrating Mass. As a reward for all of his work, Christ offered to give him whatever he desired. When asked what he wanted, Thomas replied, “Only you Lord. Only you.” After this, Thomas experienced an ecstasy and saw a vision. He never told anyone what he had seen but he no longer desired to write. When a friend suggested he take up his pen again and finish his books, Thomas replied, “I cannot, because all that I have written seems like straw to me.” That’s probably worth thinking about.
Since St. Thomas was from Aquino, which is in the Lazio region of Italy, I made Costarelle di Maiale alla Laziale (grilled pork chops Lazio style). We also had a bottle of Sangiovese/Chianti, wine from that area.
To make the costarelle di maiale all you need are some pork chops, good olive oil, wine, pepper, salt, and some Italian bread.
1. Get your grill going. A wood fire is best, especially since the recipe is so simple.
2. Slice your bread, nice and thick. Dip the chops into the oil, wine, pepper, and salt.
3. Toss the chops on the grill and place the bread on top to soak up some of the juice.
4. Flip the chops and place the bread directly on the grill. Be careful, you don’t want the bread to burn or the meat to dry out. Nothing is worse than dry pork. That’s probably in the Summa somewhere.
We ate this with some greens from the garden. I forget what kind. Maybe cauliflower leaves. We also drank the rest of the wine. St. Thomas Aquinas said many brilliant things. Among them was, “Sorrow can be alleviated by good sleep, a bath, and a glass of wine.”
Here’s a prayer of his:
O creator past all telling, you have appointed from the treasures of your wisdom the hierarchies of angels, disposing them in wondrous order above the bright heavens, and have so beautifully set out all parts of the universe.
You we call the true fount of wisdom and the noble origin of all things.
Be pleased to shed on the darkness of mind in which I was born,
The twofold beam of your light and warmth to dispel my ignorance and sin.
You make eloquent the tongues of children.
Then instruct my speech and touch my lips with graciousness.
Make me keen to understand, quick to learn, able to remember;
make me delicate to interpret and ready to speak.
Guide my going in and going forward, lead home my going forth.
You are true God and true man, and live for ever and ever. Amen.