Forty years ago, a Catholic relief organization provided Lidia Bastianich and her family safe passage and visas to emigrate to America, if they went to the Vatican to get the blessing of the pope at the time, Paul VI. So one can only imagine how thrilled Bastianich was to cook three meals for the current pope, Benedict XVI, during his visit to New York City. The pope turned out to be a serious eater—not surprising, given the fact that his mom was a hotel chef. This is what Lidia and her colleagues served His Holiness.
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An interview in the New York Daily News today with Lidia Bastianich, who's preparing dinner tonight and tomorrow for Pope Benedict XVI as he visits New York City. Security is tight, she says, at the residence of Archbishop Celestino Migliore, where the dinners will take place. So tight, in fact, that Bastianich can't even reveal the menu, except to say that it will focus on seasonal ingredients. Though the Daily News did mention that one of the dinners (likely tonight's, since the pope doesn't eat red meat on Fridays) will feature red and white wines from Italy and local Atlantic striped bass. And a bonus for the Secret Service: They'll be tasting all the food before and after it's cooked....