Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Breasts of St. Agatha

the Martyrdom of St. Agatha, Palazzo di Pitti

Minni di Virgini or minni di sant'agata
Agatha's breasts, a treat served in Catania, Sicily during her feast day
Amadeus fans (the movie) may remember them being served as Agatha's nipples
St. Agatha is considered the patron saint of breast cancer, among many other roles. She grew up in the third century Catania , Sicily and refused to give up her virginity and her Christianity to the Romans who tortured her by ripping off her breasts and then making her carry them on a platter (there are paintings of this). As they tied her to a stake to burn her to death, nearby Mt. Etna blew causing an earthquake saving her. She was imprisoned instead where St. Peter came back from heaven to restore her breasts.

There are many churches built in her honor especially the elaborate Duomo in Catania. This city looks like a fun one to visit. I  recently learned one could take a train to Sicily despite it being an island. They put the whole train on a ferry and then it continues on in Sicily. Something to consider.Presumably many of the icons we saw in the Ravenna churches featured her though we don't have any close-ups of hers.

I was watching a travel show last night where they feasted on her 'breasts'. They looked yummy: a layer of green marzipan, sponge cake, ricotta filling covered by a sugary glaze and topped by the cherry. Recipes call for the ricotta to be made from sheep's milk. I assume the green is to represent the olive tree that sprung up as they tried to light the fire. Marzipan olive leaves are served during this feast too. (I am a big fan of marzipan). I haven't seen these in the Brooklyn Italian bakery but then, I haven't looked.

I read recently that more and more patients with early stage breast cancer (mine was considered advanced early stage) are opting for a double mastectomy instead of a lumpectomy even though the physicians insist that the survival rate is the same. I could never get a straight answer whether this study that was quoted to me several times, looked at the subset of TNBC patients. Is this true for them too? Meanwhile patients with BRAC gene deletions are given a mastectomy as their cancers likely will return. I think the biggest factor is peace of mind even if the researchers find it ill-founded. Also now there is a law that insurance companies have to cover breast reconstruction for cancer patients. Did they tell me that? I am thinking of my upcoming mammogram and the expensive anxiety filling false alarm of last year which would not had happened if I had opted for the mastectomy in the first place. And I wouldn't have needed the two surgeries (the first one resulted in bad margins).

Although it is much warmer than the last few days, still cold to be sitting watching UM lose again.
Why do young people insist on that kissy face?
 Naomi had her 10 seconds of fame last night as she was sitting right behind the goal post and the camera zoomed in on her and put her on the big monitor. Strangers came up to her afterwards to say they saw her. She was embarrassed as the 50 foot version of her showed acne. She is currently reviewing the taped game to see if it made the TV although she can see tiny versions of herself every time a goal is scored.

1 comment:

Elephant's Child said...

Such a brave woman. I doubt (very much) that I could manage.
And I will pass on the delicacies named after her.


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