One did not have to be Catholic last week to have been watching with interest the happenings in Rome and the choosing of a new pope. Through the magic of the media, we were able to watch firsthand the announcement of the new pontiff while learning about the selection process and many other facts of interest.

When the white smoke finally billowed, those gathered in St. Peter’s Square waited with anticipation for the name of the man who would now serve the flock. The name was Jorge Bergoglio, a Jesuit cardinal from Buenos Aires, Argentina. That the new pope was both a Jesuit and from Latin America were firsts.

Among the things that were of interest to me was the fact that he was of Italian descent, his parents having gone from Italy to Argentina, which happened a lot in the early 1900s.

My mother had told me how her paternal uncle had gone to Argentina and her father had come to America, so it is possible I have relatives in Argentina. To see if I could get some firsthand knowledge on the new Pope Francis I, went to Empanadus restaurant in Riverside, since it is owned by Argentinians.

As luck would have it, I met with the manager, Oriana DiTiero, who came to the U.S. from Argentina 13 years ago. She comes from Buenos Aires and her mother still lives there. Her family, like the pope, was originally from Pretoro, Italy.

She said she is “very proud and knows that he is a good person and cares about the people.” DiTiero spoke of how he enjoyed the simple things of life in Buenos Aires and was known to favor taking the bus, drinking a tea that was a favorite of the locals and comporting himself like a common person. As we spoke, we both wondered how that would change for him. According to DiTiero, he is liked by the people of Argentina.

So while we continue to learn about Pope Francis I, it was good to hear thoughts other than what I have been reading in the papers from someone who was familiar with the former Cardinal Bergoglio.

Of course a stop at Empanadus would not be complete without bringing home some of the Argentinian delights. Choosing which ones was the hard part. Located at 7 E. Burlington in Riverside, Empanadus is open 7 days a week.