ROME — Celebrity chef and former Swiss Guard David Geisser has launched The Vatican Christmas Cookbook, including recipes served at the Vatican during the Advent and Christmas seasons for over a thousand years.
The book contains 70 original recipes inspired by the history, lore, and atmosphere of the Vatican City State, including a mix of sumptuous gourmet recipes such as Veal Tartare in Truffle Oil and Egg Williams Soufflé along with a number of simpler, satisfying plates, like Hearty Barley Soup and Papalin fettucine.
The book also contains an entire section dedicated to different fondue recipes, capitalizing on the culinary tradition of the Swiss, from Vaud Fondue with sherry and nutmeg to Fondue Moitié Moitié with garlic and cayenne pepper to Tilsit Red Fondue with morel mushrooms and pomace brandy (marc).
The Vatican Christmas Cookbook is the sequel to Geisser’s original bestselling The Vatican Cookbook, which took the world by storm in 2016. Co-written with his friend and colleague Thomas Kelly, who provides Christmas tales from the Vatican and around the world, The Vatican Christmas Cookbook also offers fascinating papal history and historical Christmas traditions.
In one notable section, the book describes the meeting in 451 AD between an unarmed Pope Leo the Great and Attila the Hun, which resulted in Attila retreating north with his troops without sacking Rome. From that year on, Leo became known as “the pope who saved Christmas.”
The book also explores the history of the Papal Swiss Guard itself, assembled by Pope Julius II in 1505 as a sort of praetorian guard to the popes, who were coming under heavier threats of violence. Julius reached out to his allies in the Swiss Confederacy and requested a permanent company of 200 of their finest fighting men to be stationed within the walls of Vatican City under the direct authority of the pope, and thus the Guard was born.
Geisser, who now operates his own cooking studio in Wermatswil in northern Switzerland, published his first cookbook at the age of just eighteen, under the title Around the World in 80 Plates, which made him an overnight celebrity with the national press.
He later applied and was accepted in the prestigious Vatican Swiss Guard served a two-year term from 2013-2015. The Vatican Christmas Cookbook is his seventh cookbook.