19 April 2013

19 April - St. Expeditus; Hasty Pudding

“At Melitine, in Armenia, the holy martyrs Hermogenes, Caius, Expeditus, Aristonicus, Rufus, and Galatas, crowned on the same day.”

And that’s all we get.  Nothing about how they were martyred, or by whom, or anything.  But around Expeditus grew a story of a young soldier who had converted to Christianity.  On the day he was to be received into the Church, the Devil in the form of a crow suggested that he wait a bit… think it over… do nothing in haste… after all, there’s always tomorrow… if you’re still of the same mind tomorrow…

Instead, Expeditus stamped on the crow, crying “Hodie!” (“Today!”)  For this, he is considered the patron saint of those who need fast answers or those who provide fast services (like delivery people).  He is also invoked against procrastination, something to which the Widow is much addicted.

“Dear Saint Expeditus,

Protect me from Delivery People,

Those who pull out in front of me with their big delivery trucks, which are never going as fast as I was before they pulled out in front of me,

Those who suddenly stop and double park, leaving no room to go around them, and backing up traffic for blocks, while they seek out someone to sign for the package,

Those who can’t see my house number because it is rather far back from the road, and who refuse to read the number on my mailbox, which is right next to the road, so they say they can’t deliver my package, which means I have to drive to their warehouse 40 miles away,

Those who open boxes and steal the contents, then inform me via email that the package was damaged and the contents lost due to my negligence – I neglected to chain and padlock the box – so they aren’t paying for it,

Those who don’t read that packages delivered to the office must – MUST – be signed for, so they leave a box clearly marked “NEW COMPUTER EQUIPMENT” in front of the door on the sidewalk, which disappears before I even get to work, but that’s not their fault, they delivered it, and they aren’t paying for it…

Oh, and thanks for the Good Ones.  Protect them and intercede for them.  Amen.”


In the spirit of the day, try HASTY PUDDING.

“The sweets of Hasty Pudding. Come, dear bowl,

Glide o'er my palate, and inspire my soul.”

                                                          Joel Barlow, “The Hasty Pudding” (1793)

In the U.S., this is made with cornmeal, and is something like polenta.  Other countries use wheat.  

Get out your double-boiler.  Fill the bottom pan with the usual amount of water and heat to boiling.    Meanwhile, put 4 cups of water and 1 teaspoon of salt in the top pan; bring this to a boil over direct heat (not over the bottom pan).  When boiling, sprinkle in 1 cup of cornmeal, stirring constantly until it is incorporated. 

Now put the top pan over the bottom pan and let the mixture cook, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes.  Serve warm in bowls topped with maple syrup, or butter and cinnamon-sugar, or honey, or milk and sugar, or bits of fried bacon or salt pork…

“What is better for supper than milk and mush?” asks Mrs. A. M. Collins in her Great Western Cookbook” (1857).  Her recipe was called “Corn Meal Mush”:

“Fill an iron pot as full of water as you think will make mush enough for the occasion, salt it to your taste, sift the meal, and begin to stir it in as soon as the water boils, but not before.  Let the meal fall slowly and lightly through your fingers; after putting in two or three handfuls, let it boil a minute or two, still stirring; after it boils well, stir in more until it is thick enough.”

Joel Barlow took exception to that name for this glorious food to which he dedicated his epic poem:

“Ev'n in thy native regions, how I blush

To hear the Pennsylvanians call thee mush!”

You can read his paeon of praise to his ‘morning incense’ and his ‘evening meal’ here.

“Thy name is Hasty Pudding! thus our sires
Were wont to greet thee fuming from their fires;
And while they argued in thy just defence
With logic clear, they thus explained the sense:
'In haste the boiling cauldron, o'er the blaze,
Receives and cooks the ready-powdered maize;
In haste 'tis served, and then in equal haste,
With cooling milk, we make the sweet repast.”