St. Francis is the patron saint of animals. On Sunday, October 2nd, thousands of people and animals of every type gathered at New York’s Cathedral of St. John the Divine for the saint’s feast which includes the annual Blessing of the Animals. It’s a hoot, or, more correctly, a yowl, bark, snort and whinny.
There were lots of incredibly well-behaved dogs (and a few cats) in attendance, each sporting a red carnation. Zoe, a Cavalier King Charles spaniel sat quietly behind us; down the row a large lab wagged herself silly; everyone smiled benignly at the occasional outbreak of barking.
During the event, I had several sneezing attacks which my friend insisted was a coatimundi allergy.
(For those not in the know, a coatimundi is a racoon-esque mammal with a ring-tale.) This particular coati was among the more exotic animals in the procession that included a camel, cow, horse, kangaroo, goats, hawks, owls, a huge tortoise aboard a rolling dolly, a peacock, rabbits, a fox and other birds and beasts.. The highlight, though probably not for her or her handlers, was when Peggy, a white llama, lay down in the aisle next to our seats and would not be budged. Finally, when the procession traversed back up the aisle and a cow almost tripped on her, Peggy arose and agreed to depart. Clearly, she had other plans for the day.
In addition to the regular service and the animals there were dancers, puppets, music set to sounds of the tundra wolf, humpback whale, harp seal and more. Churches all over bless animals in honor of St. Francis but none does it in more style than St. John’s.
Since we spent the day honoring animals, it seems wrong to include a meat recipe. Herewith, something that doesn’t involve anything with a face or a mother:
Chunky Vegetarian Chili (courtesy Cooking Light)
Serves 8 (if you want less, decrease proportionately)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 cups chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped yellow bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 16-ounce cans stewed tomatoes, juice and all
2 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 15-ounce can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 15-ounce can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
Get out that can opener!
In a large heavy pot or Dutch oven heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, bell peppers, and garlic; sauté 5 minutes or until tender. Add sugar and remaining ingredients, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes. Serve in mugs or bowls with a salad, bread, taco chips or what you will.
Be sure there’s water in your pet’s bowl. For you, a glass of wine.