By Dorri Partain

When Sylvia Raya and Anita Gulotta, along with other members of St. Anthony’s Catholic Church, refer to “The Table” they are deep in preparations for the annual event that’s commemorated every year on March 19.

The Feast of St. Joseph is celebrated with a full schedule of events that takes weeks to prepare for, with the planning beginning the last weeks of January. Paramount is the baking of hundreds of dozens of Italian cookies that will be sold during the event, with different varieties being mixed, shaped, baked, and decorated each week.

A detailed calendar hangs on the wall outside the kitchen area inside St. Joseph’s Hall, where three days a week, volunteers gather to prepare the cookies assigned for that week. The popular fig cookies, which are the most labor-intensive, take a whole week, but then again their goal is 130 dozen. Once baked and cooled, the cookies are surrounded by layers of wax paper, stored in large metal popcorn tins that are tape sealed and labeled. The week before the table is set up, the cookies are packaged into clamshell containers as an assortment of the different varieties.

Amid the hustle and bustle, Gulotta and Rayas work alongside the volunteers for that day and won’t take credit for overseeing all the tasks involved.

“I’m not a leader,” Gulotta states, “We work as a team. It’s just amazing all the cultures (within the parish) that come together to make the cookies.”

Additional cookies, such as pizzelle and ravasani, are baked at home and brought in by church members to display on the table, and will also be on sale. A limited amount of gluten-free cookies will be available, along with an array of fruits and vegetables including the traditional artichokes. All proceeds from the sale of food items and free will donations are earmarked to assist those in need.

For a full list of St. Joseph Table events click here

Click photo to enlarge

Dessert assortment includes:
Biscotti- anise flavored with almond slices, lemon with lemon icing, cherry with cherry icing, and plain with vanilla icing.

Snowballs- round cookies with chopped pecans and rolled in powdered sugar.

Tatú-  round chocolate cookies with cinnamon, cloves and chopped pecans with a chocolate icing.

Humpty Dumptys- round chocolate cookie with chopped pecans and raisins topped with chocolate icing.

Pignolata (honey balls)- fried cookie dough balls coated with honey glaze and topped with colored sprinkles. Available in the cookie assortments or separately shaped into a cone to represent the 40 days Jesus spent in the wilderness.

Fig bars- filled with a spiced fig filling and topped with vanilla icing and colored sprinkles.

Banderas- colored red, plain, and green to resemble the Italian and Mexican flags.

Sesame- biscotti rolled in sesame seeds.

Jam thumbprints- round cookies rolled in pecans and a thumbprint filled with strawberry jam.