A convert to Catholicism, Alexandra Greeley is a food writer, restaurant critic, and cookbook author, who is passionate about every aspect of the food world—from interviewing chefs to supporting local farmers and to making the connection between food and faith
Faith, food, and family have always defined Cecilia Glembocki’s life. Raised in a Polish Catholic family. Glembocki said her mother instilled in her a passion for her Catholic faith, but also a love for food and cooking. And that is why, as a home economist, she eventually ended up as the Executive Director of the Virginia Egg Council and an affiliate member of the American Egg Board.
This egg fascination began when Glembocki moved to the Washington, D.C., metro area in early 1976 and looked into getting a job as a home economist. After staging a bridal luncheon for an interview session with the Virginia Egg Council, where scrambled eggs served in puff pastry were served with champagne, she was hired to represent the egg industry in the Greater Washington area. It also meant doing egg demonstrations, appearing on local television shows and the 700 Club with Pat Robertson. She even appeared on Oprah Winfrey’s show in the 1980s.
A major turning point in her egg-centric life came when in 1981 the Egg Council asked her to help oversee the very popular Easter egg roll on the White House lawn. “I thought it was so unusual because Easter is a major holiday,” she said. “Don’t people know that this is the holiest week of the year? I realized that my cultural roots and religious faith really shaped my whole world.”
After more than a dozen years of staging an event near the White House with Easter eggs decorated by numerous different cultures, Glembocki continued to volunteer at the annual event. “The first egg hunt was with Nancy Reagan,” she said. “I didn’t know how to do it, and my helpers were ladies who came wearing high heels.” Decades later, the event still rolls on, and Glembocki continues to take part.
Eggs aside, what has really defined her life is her zealous Catholicism, celebrating with family and friends the church’s holy celebrations of Christmas and Easter and devoutly attending Mass. And Glembocki’s life really changed when she attended her first meeting in 2001 of the Friends of the John Paul II Foundation (www.JP2friends.org) in Washington, called the “Wadowice on the Potomac.” She felt very much that this Polish pope was really part of her own Polish family.
“We are part of an organization started by Pope John Paul II by papal decree to promote his legacy and to support the education of students from Eastern European countries,” she said. The goal is to send them back to their countries to maintain the educational qualities of these students. She added, “When John Paul II was elected as pope, so many pilgrims slept on streets. So this foundation started a pilgrim’s home outside of the city called Dom Polski to offer a place to stay”
Meeting with the then-leader, Glembocki offered to help for the group’s events, saying she would provide food for its luncheons, and eventually she started hosting teas and other events at the Pope John Paul II Center located near Washington’s Basilica. Both she and her husband, Raymond, became active members, and both served as the group’s president for several years. “I know people of our generation know Pope John Paul II,” she said. “But what about younger people? And I remember that John Paul II had such a glow about him. I thought people in the United States do not understand the food and faith tradition of life. So with this group I could intertwine love and the celebration of food.”
For all her contributions to Catholicism, Glembocki has won numerous awards, including the cross Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice from the Vatican in 2016. “Be Not Afraid to Show Your Faith,” Glembocki counsels Catholics in many of her programs and booklets. “It is a rhythm of life: go to church, celebrate holidays and families,” she said. “You must learn to respect people and their way of life. All that starts from your heritage and faith.”
Hash Brown Pancakes
A breakfast dish, credit to the Virginia Egg Council. Makes 6 pancakes, 2 per serving
1⁄2 cup chopped green pepper
3 T. chopped green onions
3 cups frozen hash brown potatoes, thawed
Place eggs in a mixer bowl and blend. Add pepper and onions and mix thoroughly
Add potatoes and mix slowly until well combined.
For each serving: Scoop 1/3 cup mixture and drop onto oiled 375 degree griddle.
Cook 2 to 3 minutes per side until browned and crispy. Keep warm until ready to serve.