On the Road to Emmaus

For more than a decade now, the small, red, egg-shaped candle that usually nests near a statue of the Blessed Mother in the china closet, re-appears among the other Easter Week treasures on the mantle.

Bearing the legend “Emmaus” in fine, gold script, it was brought back from that very location by a pilgrim who walked, not only in the footsteps of the risen Christ, but the footsteps of her own son.

 Her son had found such peace in Emmaus, that during a desperate illness, he decided he wanted to be buried there in the holy ground where Jesus had appeared. She moved earth and heaven (I think) to see his wish was fulfilled.

Every year when the candle is brought out and placed on the mantle again, I savor its smooth and perfect form and appreciate, once again, the hand that formed the letters so lovingly on its surface. Its wick remains pristine. I will leave it to others to some day light it.

For me, the memory of the light in the eyes of that pilgrim mother is enough. She had experienced Emmaus deeply and most memorably. It was a privilege as a reporter, to hear and record her story.

These glorious days that follow Easter Day are rich in the story of Resurrection and hope in the Risen Christ that set her off on her journey.

 They are the perfect days to recall the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus, meals where he broke bread, shared it with his disciples, ate and even cooked fish for them that they might understand the need to “Feed my lambs” and “tend my sheep”.

After the glory of Easter Day, a good site to read of Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances is  www.catholic.org/clife/lent/appearances/php

I enjoy cooking fish during these days of remembrance but the dishes tend to be a bit more lavish than those prepared during Lent. The Spanish-style fish stew for instance, is savory and delightful. It also includes a bit of Chorizo — the Spanish sausage that we all savor so much when it appears in a recipe.

 This recipe is the result of experimenting and frankly “boiling down” more time consuming recipes from books and the Internet. It’s easy to prepare and I really like the addition of thick and meaty sea scallops from off the Jersey Shore in the brew.

Shellfish Stew

Ingredients – 6 cups vegetable broth; 2 lbs mixed filets – hake, sole, flounder, haddock, cod – cut in chunks and pieces; 1 lb assorted shellfish – I like sea scallops and whatever size shrimp is on sale – 12 cherry stone clams and 12 mussels, well scrubbed; 1/2 lb chorizo sausage, cut into 1/2 inch rounds (find chorizo sausage in supermarkets in the deli, spanish section or sausage section. If you can’t find it, ask, you’ll be pointed in the right direction) 28-oz can whole tomatoes with juice; 1 medium sweet onion; 6 cloves garlic, minced; 1/2 cup fresh basil; zest of one lemon and of one lime; 1/2 tsp saffron (from the Spanish section of the supermarket – look for the small packets) olive oil; 1 cup white wine (optional) salt and pepper to taste; 1/2″ thick bread rounds, toasted and brushed with olive oil.

Directions – Saute onions and garlic slowly, adding in oil to coat, vegetable stock; wine (if desired) the fish, citrus zest and stir continuously until the onions start to become translucent. Raise the heat, bring to a boil and add tomatoes, saffron, basil and bay leaf. Lower the heat and simmer for an hour or more partially covered, stirring occasionally. Raise the heat and bring to a boil and add the shell fish and the sausage. Lower the heat to medium high and cook about 6-8 minutes until the bivalves open (remove and discard any that do not). Let stand for about 8 minutes.

Serve in broad, shallow soup or pasta bowls on top of the bread rounds. Be sure to include broth — it is delicious.


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