Monday, May 3, 2010

An Israeli Spread for the Feast of St. James the Just

Today is the Feast of St. James the Just, our James' patron saint. St. James is also known as James the Righteous, James of Jerusalem, James Adelphotheos, or James the Brother of the Lord. He was, as the final moniker indicates, a close relative of Christ, as well as the first Bishop of Jerusalem. He is widely held to be the author of the Letter of James in Scripture and of the Apostolic Decree spoken of in Acts 15. According to the writings of Josephus, St. James suffered martyrdom by stoning after defying the Pharisees by publicly proclaiming Jesus to be the Christ. It is recorded that, even as he was being stoned to death, St. James prayed for those who murdered him. It is speculated that the account in Acts of the protomartyrdom of St. Stephen may actually have refered to the death of St. James, whose name would have been changed to the illustrative "Stephen," which literally means "crown," as in the crown of martyrdom.

Not to be confused with James the Great (brother of John, and another of the original Twelve disciples of Christ), St. James' feast is celebrated on May 3rd (today) along with the feast of St. Phillip.

In honor of James' first Nameday, I made a special Israeli feast in honor of his patron's Jewish heritage and his bishopric in Jerusalem.

An Israeli Spread for the Feast of St. James the Just

Joan Nathan's Falafel
blueberry-pomegranate spritzers

I had wanted to make some Cream of Jerusalem Artichoke Soup (which apart from the name has nothing to do with Jerusalem), but I couldn't find any sunchokes in our grocery store.

When James is older, we will be able to tell him more about his patron, but in the meantime, I think he's already forming a bond with this great saint--or at least forming a love of falafel!


  1. That looks pretty amazing. My husband looooves falafel (to my knowledge, he ate it almost every day while he was studying in Edinburgh for a semester!) -- I'll have to try this recipe!

    I've had good luck with this baked falafel recipe. Fried falafel is excellent... but this version comes out nice and crispy, too! :)


  2. Thanks, Luci! I will see if I can combine my recipe with the technique in the baked one. As delicious as these were, it's not something you can make everyday if you want to stay trim ;-)

  3. BTW, falafel and hummus are Lebanese. ;)

  4. Thanks for posting the falafel recipe. It falls under the "I love to eat it but haven't been brave enough to try to make it yet!" category for me. Perhaps that will have to change soon!

  5. Thursday's Child- Actually, as far as I'm aware, hummus was originally Egyptian! But, of course, both are eaten throughout the Middle East and North Africa (not to mention, all over the world wherever these cuisines have been imported). I just know that I ate a lot of both with my Israeli friends in college :-)

  6. hello Bethany. I'm here from Catholic Cuisine where you are featured. The recipe sounds delicious, and I'm been perusing your blog and posts and just have to say you have a lovely family, and great ideas for the liturgical year. On your books page, I see you read two of Marilynne Robinson's novels. you may enjoy Gilead, also by her, I believe the pulitzer winner one year, and quite a wonderful book. my current readds are mostly pertaining to Our Lady, one of which is A Catholic Companion to Mary, and is quite good. Nice to meet you.

  7. I'm just being a Lebanese. (Actually I'm half Swedish/half mutt, but I do have my Lebanese I.D. LOL) It's eaten as far east as the Gulf too, but most restaurants will advertise as being Lebanese since it has the reputation.


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