St Mark the Evangelist

April 25 is the feast of St. Mark, the author of the Gospel of Mark.  Scholars believe that Mark’s gospel is the earliest of the four canonical gospels and a source of inspiration for the others. Mark likely was an early disciple of Jesus, possibly, John Mark. The Gospel tells the story of Jesus’ life and ministry from his baptism to his resurrection.

It tells the story like a mystery story. Where the reader, like the characters, are trying to discern Jesus’ mysterious identity (Messianic Secret), until the Roman Centurion states, “Surely this must be the Son of God.” The Gospel moves at a quick pace from one event to another, with the word “immediately” used 41 times! Mark was a master story teller, bringing the reader on an amazing spiritual journey.  

The story says that Mark became a missionary to Egypt, where he became the first Pope of the Coptic Church. That church, while still strong today, was a major force in Christian history. One of the most popular dishes in Egypt and the middle-east is Baba Ganoush.  It is a baked or smoked eggplant dip made with tahini and spices. It is great dip to be enjoyed with pita bread or chips.  

The Lion of St Mark by Vittore Carpaccio; 1516; tempera on canvas; Height: 130 cm (51.1 in); Width: 368 cm (12 ft); Housed at Doge’s Palace, Venice. The winged lion is the symbol of Mark the Evangelist, also called the Lion of Saint Mark. The Lion of Saint Mark is the symbol of Venice, Italy (pictured behind the Lion of Saint Mark.) The inscription on the book reads:  PAX TIBI MARCE EVANGELISTA MEVS (“Peace be upon you, Mark, my evangelist”)


Baba Ganoush

Ingredients

3 medium eggplants 
3 medium cloves garlic, minced
Juice from 1 lemon
3 tablespoons tahini
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup chopped parsley leaves
Salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat a gas or charcoal grill to medium heat and place eggplants directly over heat source. Cook 30 to 40 minutes, turning occasionally, until eggplants are tender and charred on all sides.
  2. Wrap the eggplants with foil and let rest for at least 15 minutes.
  3. Working with one eggplant at a time, slice each eggplant open lengthwise. Carefully scoop out the soft flesh with a spoon and transfer to a mesh-strainer set in a large bowl. Remove out any stray bits of skin and blackened flesh and drain excess moisture using the strainer.
  4. Once as much moisture as possible has been removed, place the eggplant mixture in a bowl and add 3 medium cloves of minced garlic and the juice of one lemon and stir vigorously with a fork for about 2 minutes. Continuing to stir, add 3 tablespoons tahini, followed by the 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil. Continue stirring until the mixture is pale and creamy. Stir in 1/4 cup chopped parsley leaves and season to taste with salt.
  5. Baba ganoush is best enjoyed room temperature with warm pita bread.