While hardly The DaVinci Code, a new book of recipes published by the elite Swiss Guard promises to reveal “some of the secrets of the Vatican.”
The Papal Swiss Guard, the colorful sentries who have sworn to sacrifice their lives, if necessary, to defend the Pope, have compiled favorite Vatican dishes in a book titled Buon Appetito. A full menu inspired by Pope Francis includes “empanadas” filled with bell peppers, “colita de cuadril,” and “dulce de leche,” a South American dessert made by slowly heating sweet milk until it thickens into a caramel-like consistency.
The book is the brainchild of halberd-bearer David Geisser, who was a Swiss chef before becoming a Swiss Guard in 2013. The 24-year-old Geisser has taken some liberties with the specific recipes in his cookbook, adding a personal touch to traditional dishes such as spaghetti alla carbonara, where he substitutes speck for the usual Italian pancetta.
Geisser dedicates a menu to emeritus Pope Benedict, this time with a Bavarian twist, featuring items like Regensburg Wurst. Saint John Paul II is also commemorated, with a recipe for “pierogi,” the ravioli-like Polish stuffed dumplings, a staple of Krakovian cuisine. Geisser records that after the 1981 assassination attempt, John Paul was nursed back to health with the aid of a pierogi-based diet.
Popes are not the only ones whose culinary preferences are recorded. Buon Appetito also offers the favorite recipes of Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican secretary of state (gnocchi), Archbishop Georg Ganswein, prefect of the Papal Household (saltimbocca alla romana), and Swiss Cardinal Kurt Koch (Wienerschnitzel).
So far, the book has only been released in German, but there are plans to publish an English-language version next year if it proves popular.