Celebrate the Festival of Books and Roses with Sant Jordi NYC and the Seminary Co-op

April 23rd, 2021

Friday, April 23, is the feast day of St. George, the dragon slayer, who killed the fearsome beast to save the king’s daughter. Catalans celebrate it as Sant Jordi, and for centuries Catalan gentlemen gave their beloved a rose on this day.

In the 1920s the Catalan booksellers’ association added books into the mix and the Sant Jordi Book Festival was born. No longer strictly gender based, lovers, friends, and family now give one another books and roses. Think of it as Valentine’s Day—for nerds. Fortified by these tales of knights and dragons and books and roses, as the world shuttered public gatherings, we chose to expand literature’s reach and come to you, onscreen.

Sant Jordi NYC, which began several years ago as a literary bar-and-bookstore crawl, is now not only a literary offering, but an artistic and technological innovation. The website, designed by Laia Cabrera and Isabelle Duverger, is an online portal through which attendees enter; from there, you can step into various narrative currents: readings and panel discussions livestreamed from around the globe, a special on the mediterranean diet, web-based AR experiences, and the history of Sant Jordi as an immersive journey. Interactive designer Aniol Saurina Masó crafted thrilling visuals, including three-dimensional dragons that chase user-generated roses and books through the site.

Sant Jordi is a party, but it is also, above all, a booksellers’ festival. In Catalonia, ten percent of any given year’s revenue from book sales comes in on Sant Jordi’s Day.

True to this spirit, we’re honored to team up with the Seminary Co-op, one of the US’s most beautiful and important bookstores, to offer the following literary menu.

Bon profit!

There is a lovely expression in Catalan for what in English we might call a “grab bag”: calaix de sastre, a tailor’s drawer. You can just picture a drawer full of lengths of thread, scraps of fabric, the occasional thimble, pins and needles, lone buttons, unmatched gloves… 

To some extent, Sant Jordi NYC is a tailor’s drawer—a potpourri of writing from all over the world—but there are also some unifying principles. 

This year Sant Jordi NYC includes a focus on the Catalan version of the Mediterranean Diet. Each day at noon we will set the table for a delightful meal in which the appetizer course will be a series of videos of great Catalan chefs discussing one basic product of the local way of eating and living. Ferran Adrià will discuss olive oil; Marc Puig-Pey will talk legumes; Fina Puigdevall and her daughter Martina will discuss vegetables; Mateu Casañas will show us how to cook and—above all—how to eat a prawn; Christian Escribà, descended from generations of master pastry chefs, will tell us about dessert; and Amanda Laporte will show us how to shop in La Boqueria, the great Barcelona market. All the while, they’ll talk about food and recommend books. Sant Jordi would be proud.


Amanda Laporte recommends Josep Pla, tr. Peter Bush, Salt Water, Archipelago Books
Ferran Adrià recommends Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, The Physiology of Taste
Josep Roca recommends Francesc Eiximenis, Com usar bé de beure e menjar
Fina Puigdevall recommends Kakuzo Okakura, The Book of Tea

Main Courses: books discussed at length

The Sultan’s Feast, Ibn Mubarak Shah, tr. Daniel Newman, Saqi Books
Nourishing the Nation, Venetia Johannes, Berghan Books
Hungry Ghosts, a translation from Sanskrit and analysis of Avadanasataka, a classical Buddhist text about eternal hunger, tr. Andy Rotman, Wisdom Publications

We’ll bring you the side dishes—daily specials focusing on Korean literature, Brazilian literature, some nibbles of new books in German, Italian, and many other languages, as well as international children’s books—in the next issue.

Learn more about events, games, and other Saint Jordi Fest activities here.