World | Food

Yes, The New Pope Cooks, But He's No Foodie

NPR | March 15, 2013 9:13 a.m.

Contributed By:

Maria Godoy

Pope Francis as he waved to the crowd in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican on Wednesday.

Pope Francis as he waved to the crowd in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican on Wednesday.

Peter Macdiarmid, Getty Images

As the white smoke cleared from the skies above the Vatican Wednesday afternoon, one of the first, widely reported personal tidbits to emerge about the newly selected pope, the former Jorge Mario Bergoglio, is that the Argentine cooks for himself. But the new pontiff, who will now be known as Francis, is hardly a foodie, it seems.

According to a profile of the prelate published by Argentina’s La Nacion in 2009 (I’ve translated from the Spanish), austerity and humility are two of his defining characteristics. And they seem to extend to his eating habits.

Although Argentina is famous for its hearty, meat-laden parillas, according to the newspaper, as archbishop, Francis kept his meals “frugal and healthy,” though he does enjoy the occasional glass of wine. Fruit, skinless chicken and salads are all favorites.

Lunch is a quick meal served at 12:30 in the afternoon, followed by a brief siesta. Dinner is also a solitary affair. He rarely eats out, the paper reported, though every so often, he’d board a public bus and head out to bless popular new restaurants, or celebrate a birthday with someone. Very rarely, he’d stay and eat some soup.

As our friends at the Two-Way have reported, it’s widely believed that the Argentine was the “runner-up” during the last papal conclave, in 2005. But Italian journalist Andrea Tornielli, who now covers the Vatican for La Stampa, told La Nacion that Bergoglio – now Francis – had never wanted to move to Rome. Though when in the Italian capital, he reportedly took pleasure in exploring city streets by foot, drinking his ristretto while standing upright at café counters.

Staying put in South America is no longer an option for Francis, of course. Neither, one presumes, are his solitary walks through the holy city in search of a strong cup of coffee.

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