This weekend I participated in one of my new favorite annual events: Il Piatto di Sant'Antonio or Dish of St. Anthony. From what I gather, St. Anthony kind of has a St. Francis-ness about him, which is a big deal in these parts, and the short story is that he saved animals from disease in the area around Santa Maria degli Angeli (under Assisi). The day is celebrated in our town the Sunday closest to the feast day (January 17) by a blesssing in the piazza: everyone brings out their animals - everything from snakes to dogs to horses! Instead Il Piatto is celebrated the Sunday after January 17. About 20 local restaurants participate (we went to the beautiful Valle di Assisi), and they all serve the same menu: pasta accompanied by 2 meatballs (made with a special recipe using raisins and pine nuts), 2 sliced of braised beef, and 4 sausages. The best part is that each participant is required to bring a dessert for their table. At the end there are so many desserts that everyone starts walking around exchanging desserts (and wine) with other tables. Needless to say all this creates a very convivial atmosphere - we were even treated to traditional songs from a group of Sardinians. Definitely an event to make one appreciate living in Italy!