In the November 2003 issue of St. Anthony Messenger, Susan Hines-Brigger interviewed Father Dominic Garramone, OSB, then the host of the PBS television show Breaking Bread With Father Dominic.
Susan caught up with Father Dominic and here is their conversation, plus a recipe for smoked salmon pizza.
Why do you think food and faith are so closely linked?
Faith always has an external expression of some kind, and a really deep faith expresses itself in every aspect of one’s life, including food. In the Catholic tradition, our central act of worship is a meal, so by extension every meal has the opportunity to be a sharing in the Eternal Wedding Feast.
How can food strengthen relationships?
Think of how many relationships have been begun or broken over dinner and a movie! But in a more ordinary sense, one way that food can help build strong family relationships is to share in meal planning and preparation as well as eating together. I don’t remember my mother ever saying “Get out of the kitchen, I’m busy!” What she said was, “Get in here and beat these eggs!” Some of my happiest holiday memories are from Christmas cookie baking with my family.
What do you, personally, get out of cooking/baking?
On a purely human level, there is great satisfaction in producing a beautiful loaf of bread or a unique pizza, the same kind of enjoyment that quilters and woodworkers get in practicing their craft. I also like exploring new recipes, expanding my knowledge of baking traditions, and learning new cooking techniques. And I read cookbooks with the same enthusiasm that some people read murder mysteries. But on a deeper spiritual level, I also like bringing people into fellowship at the table, whether it’s in a formal dining room or at a kitchen counter. Jesus said, “Love one another as I have loved you,” and very often he showed love by sharing a meal with people who needed his love very much.
What are you most grateful for this year?
In the past year I’ve had something of a spiritual renewal, and my prayer life has never been better. That spiritual nourishment has made me a better teacher, a more faithful friend, a more dedicated priest and monk, and I’m grateful that God has been gradually transforming me by his grace.
People seem drawn together by food. Why do you think that is?
It’s one of the extensions of our social nature, in a sense a consequence of being made in the image and likeness of God. The Trinity is a community of love, and so we are drawn to community in a variety of ways—in our living arrangements, in our work, our leisure, and our eating.
Do you see yourself heading back to TV anytime soon?
There aren’t any specific plans for a series at present, but we’ll see what God has in mind!
Smoked Salmon Pizza
The crust is baked first like a focaccia and the ingredients put on when it’s cold.
Recommended crust: 14 oz. Italian style
8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, room temperature
2 Tbs. capers
3 to 4 Tbs. fresh dill (about 20 small sprigs)
8 to 12 oz. smoked salmon
Using your fingertips, hand-stretch the pizza dough to 12″. Place crust on a cornmeal-dusted peel and cover with a clean, dry towel. Allow dough to rise for 20 minutes. Press your fingertip to make dimples all over the dough. Brush the top of the dough with olive oil and slide dough onto a preheated pizza stone at 450˚ F. Bake for 12–14 minutes or until browned (the interior temperature of the bread should be 190˚ F to 195˚ F). Remove from oven with peel and allow to cool to lukewarm.
Spread cream cheese over top of warm crust. Sprinkle with capers. Break the salmon into pieces with a fork and distribute evenly over cheese and garnish with dill sprigs.
Notes from Father Dominic
—We discovered that this pizza pairs nicely with white wines that are dry and have some acidity (try a white Bordeaux, avoid oaked Chardonnays), and if reds are your preference go for a Pinot Noir.
—Onions are another traditional ingredient to accompany smoked salmon. Feel free to add them here, but only in very thin slices or they can overwhelm the other flavors.
To learn more about Brother Dominic, visit his website!