Some things move you in a way that you can’t get them out of your mind. The ocean, for instance. Cake, is an obvious one. Someone you loved with your whole heart, which is never really past tense at all. Anyway, I was watching a food show a few years ago; obviously I can’t get food out of my mind. And the camera started zooming in on this town called Noto. Noto is in Sicily. I had never heard of Noto.
It was all, Baroque, majestic buildings that are a color gold that didn’t feel like it could ever be contained in stone. It felt more like sunlight; the last golden moments before the whole sun sets. The streets were cobblestone. The hills beyond, pushed into the frame. They looked like they would have a pulse if you took their heart rate. And from there, they started talking about this place, Caffe Sicilia. And the man who came back when his family needed him, and stayed to keep it going. Not because it was his obligation, but because it moved him. He couldn’t get it out of his mind. And somehow, he managed to make magic. From the love he had for his family, for the history of what had been and what could be, for the town of Noto, and the air and earth around it. He talked about flavors the way a few scientists do when they talk about what makes the world spin. That beautiful way that people have when they understand how something works down to the molecules and they have the math to prove it and their soul is all involved in a way that has no math at all. Only mystery. The most certain mystery.
So I showed up because I couldn’t get all of that out of my mind. I wanted to tell him, thank you for all that.
When I got there, I was overwhelmed and ordered a chamomile tea. He came out to meet me and of course I couldn’t stop crying, so my friend Larry had to tell him I wasn’t just a weeping woman, but a cook. That’s enough to explain a fifty nine year old woman weeping, really. But I added that I wanted to thank him for his passion and commitment. That he was an inspiration to this 59 year old weeping woman. Let me just say, he was kind, and let me hug him for the picture. Larry got the caffe granita.
The next day I got the Ricotta gelato with fiordilatte alla ricotta profumata al Rhum, con pistacchio Verde di Bronte DOP and the Mandorla tostata, sesamo e arancia gelato, with Firodilatte alla Mandorla tostata, con sesamo e scorze di arancia candite.
I am going back.