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Posted on Mar 13, 2014 |

Favorite Foods of Pope Francis

Favorite Foods of Pope Francis

Bagna Cauda is the sort of simple meal favored by Jesuits -- including Pope Francis, who cooked his own meals before his election to the See of Peter.

Bagna Cauda is the sort of simple meal favored by Jesuits — including Pope Francis, who cooked his own meals before his election to the See of Peter.


REPOST For the anniversary of Pope Francis’s election:

Born in Buenos Aires in 1936 as the son of Italian parents, Pope Francis was one of 5 children. His father was a railway worker. He was ordained a priest in 1969, and a cardinal in 2001. He was elected pope in March of this year.


Pope Francis chose the papal name Francis in honor of St Francis of Assisi. He is the first Jesuit pope, and the first pope from the Americas.


Throughout his life he has been noted for his humility and concern for the poor.


The Jesuits commit to a life of humility. He is becoming well known for his simple tastes. When he was Cardinal, he carried his own bags when traveling, used public transportation and after he became pope, he went back to the hotel where he stayed before the conclave and paid his own bill.


He doesn’t live in the papal palace. He lives in a suite of rooms in a Vatican residence near St. Peter’s where other clergy and lay people live. This is where he stayed during the conclave, and he does this because he feels like part of a family and wants to be visible to people. He feels like if he needs a normal life, a public Mass in the morning, eating in the dining room with everybody else, that this keeps him from being isolated. He goes to the Vatican just like people go to offices to attend to business.


He speaks several languages and uses this gift to build bridges between people of all backgrounds, beliefs and faiths. He is very well spoken – he speaks Italian, German and Spanish fluently and his English, French and Portuguese is pretty decent, too.


He loves the tango. I found this so interesting! He was a person who loved to dance when he was young, and the tango was his favorite. He’s also an ardent fan of an Argentinian football team nicknamed the Saints.


Did he eat out much in restaurants before he became pope?


He did not. He’d eat by himself, cooking his own meals, and wouldn’t join meals at parish churches in his diocese. Jesuit traditions favor simple cuisine — one of the rules of the order is for diners to fill up on bread because it avoids the “disorder” that comes from being “tempted by other foods” — something the new pope has apparently taken to heart.


He likes simple foods. Baked skinless chicken, fruit, salad and once in a while a glass of wine. Not food fit for a king but in Pope Francis’ opinion, food fit for a pope.


Now once in a while before he became pope, he would break from eating in his own quarters to visit a nunnery where they made Bagna Cauda, a sort of fondue with anchovies, garlic, oil and butter. This is a specialty of the Piedmont region of Italy, where his family immigrated from.


Bagna Cauda (“hot bath”)

Originally, in Piedmont, the Bagna càuda was placed in a big pan in the center of the table for communal sharing. Now, it is usually served in fondue pots. This is an adaptation of a Piedmont recipe, which uses lots more garlic and anchovies!

1 cup extra virgin olive oil

6 large garlic cloves, minced, or more to taste

Minced anchovies to taste – start with 5 and go from there

4 tablespoons high quality unsalted butter (this makes it creamy)

Veggies (either roasted or raw) & crusty bread for dipping

Warm oil in pan & add butter. Cook over low heat until butter foams. Add garlic and cook a bit, just until fragrant but not brown. Stir in anchovies and use a spoon to keep mushing them in. Remove from heat and keep warm.


St. Joseph’s Cream Puffs

This is a bonus recipe in honor of St. Joseph, who was a model father. When people celebrate his feast day in March, dessert is usually a cream puff filled with a sweetened cheese mixture.

This is the same dough you use for éclairs and also cream puff rings. The dough is called Pate a Choux. Cream puffs freeze well after baking, unfilled

1 cup water

1 stick unsalted butter

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup all purpose flour

4 large eggs, room temperature


Preheat oven to 450.

Place water, butter and salt in saucepan. Bring to boil. When butter has melted, turn heat to low and immediately pour in flour and beat thoroughly until mixture leaves sides of pan clean and leaves a film on bottom. Mixture will form a stiff ball. Remove from heat and add unbeaten eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly after each is added. This will form the leavening that “puffs” up the puffs in the oven. Pipe or drop from teaspoon or tablespoon depending on size desired. Bake for 10 minutes, reduce heat to 325 and bake another 10-15 minutes. Puffs will be golden. After cooling, split and, if necessary, hollow out bottom.  Fill as desired. Makes 24-36.

Rita’s best & easiest mocha mousse filling

Oh, this is good spooned right out of the bowl. Great in crepes, too. Or layered with whipped cream and fresh fruit in balloon wine glasses. Adapted from a KitchenAid recipe.

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon instant coffee (opt)

1-1/2 cups whipping cream

3/4  to 1 cup powdered sugar

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

Put vanilla, coffee and cream in mixer. Blend. Add sugar and cocoa and blend. Whip on high until stiff. Can be made a day ahead and kept covered, in frig.


Rita Heikenfeld.

Rita Heikenfeld.

Rita Nader Heikenfeld writes a weekly syndicated column and blog for the Community Press, appears every Thursday on the Son Rise Morning Show, and is the author of several cookbooks. An adjunct professor at the University of Cincinnati, she is Certified Culinary Professional and Certified Modern Herbalist,  the Culinary Professional for Jungle Jim’s Eastgate, and a media personality with a cable show and YouTube videos. She lives “in the sticks” outside Batavia, Ohio with her family, where they heat with wood, raise chickens for eggs, and grow their own produce and herbs. You’ll find all her previous recipes featured on The Catholic Beat here.

 Rita’s Bible Foods segment airs on the Son Rise Morning Show every Thursday morning at 7:22 am (rebroadcast Friday at 6:02 am). Tune in to hear her discuss the history behind each recipe and the scripture verses that inspired it. And of course, for cooking tips!

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