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June 29 St. Peter's Feastday

Updated: Mar 1, 2021

by Gordon Nary

Peter's original name was Simon. He and his brother, the Apostle Andrew, were fishermen. According to some early writers, Peter had a wife and children. Andrew introduced him to Jesus who renamed him Cephas, which is translated as Peter. He was a flawed man whose faults are detailed in the gospels, and an unlikely choice as the leader of the new religion. St. Peter is one of the most human and impetuous saints, qualities that have made him exceptionally popular,

Although it has always been a tradition that Peter was martyred by being crucified upside-down and buried under the sight of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. there is no proof of either of these beliefs. There is evidence that Peter was martyred during Nero's reign, but there are no written documents indicating how he died. There have been recent excavations under the basilica and while there have been some promising discoveries, there as yet is nothing to prove that this was the sight of Peter's burial.

Peter has been one of the most popular figures in the history of film with more than 130 films and television productions featuring both serious and comic portrayals (including several horror films). Among  the more memorable serious  portrayals are those by Finlay Currie in Quo Vadis? (1951), Michael Rennie in The Robe (1953), Howard Keel in The Big Fisherman (1959), Victor Argo in Martin Scorsese's The Last Temptation of Christ (1986), Francesco De Vito in The Passion of the Christ (2004), Mark Womack in the TV film Judas (2004), and Omar Sharif in San Pietro (2005). Standouts among the comic performances are by Lockwood West inBedazzled (1967),  Harry Shearer the the TV episode of The Simpsons  - I'm Goin' to Praiseland (2001), Brandon Scott in For Heaven's Sake (2002), Phil M. Price in Demon Hunters: Dead Camper Lake (2004), Alan Armstrong in Millions (2004), and Grant James in Saint Zen (2007).

St. Peter is the patron saint of fisherman. His feastday is still celebrated with great panache in many fishing communities, and often marked by the annual blessing of the fishing fleet and local specialty seafood dishes, many of which are named after St. Peter. Many of these eponymous dishes feature the John Dory or St. Peter's fish which is also called the San Pietro by the Italians, the Saint-Pierre by the French, the pez de San Pedro by the Spanish. and the Peterfisch by the Germans. The name comes from the legend that the dark mark on the dorsal fin were made by Peter after he threw a John Dory back into the sea because of it's sad eyes.

The John Dory is deep-sea fish with a laterally compressed olive-yellow body which has a large dark spot, and long spines on the dorsal fi.  It has a unique, almost nutty, flavor  The John Dory is an  expensive fish, and often difficult to obtain in the US and Canada. Porgy can usually be substituted in John Dory recopies

The John Dory's huge head and gut account for a significant percentage of the fish's weight, and therefore you get less edible fish for your money than with many other fish.  When purchasing John Dory, they should be 2&1/2 to 3 lbs and plan on one fish for two people.

Pan Fried John Dory in a Saffron Sauce

Fish Ingredients Sauce Ingredients

4 John Dory fillets, each sliced at an angle width   salt and freshly ground black pepper into two equal pieces 1&1/2 cups fish fumet* juice and zest of one orange 1 cup dry white wine

1 TB finely chopped fresh thyme 1/2 cup whipping cream 1 garlic clove, smashed 1 pinch saffron 1 TB extra virgin olive oil 2 TB shredded basil leaves additional olive oil for frying pan


  1. Place the orange juice and zest, thyme, garlic and olive oil in a large bowl and toss the John Dory in the marinade. Allow the fish to marinate covered in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

  2. Pour the fumet and wine into a saucepan and bring it to the boil then reduce it to simmer and leave it to reduce by two thirds. Add the whipping cream and stir in the saffron return to a simmer and reduce by a third so that you have a sauce consistency. Remove the sauce from the stove, cover with plastic wrap and keep warm until ready to serve.

  3. Coat a large frying pan with olive oil and place over a high heat. Remove the fish from the marinade and season lightly with salt and pepper. Place the fish skin side down in the hot pan, allow to cook for 2-3 minutes on each side, so that they are golden and cooked through.

  4. Layer serving plate with sauce. Place four slices on sauce and sprinkle with chopped basil.

Serves 2

© 2012  Gordon Nary

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