November 11, 2011

Siracusa, Sicily. May, 1988

Pasqualino Giudice in his great restaurant Jonico ’a Rutta ’e Ciauli in Siracusa. We’d learned about Pasqualino and his local recipes (pasta with anchovies and toasted breadcrumbs, spaghetti with bottarga and smoked herring) from Paula Wolfert’s World of Food, so when we landed here in southern Sicily, we made a beeline to his table. A real showman, he soon presented us with some special memorial menus he’d had printed, signing them with calligraphic flourishes that added new meaning to the word baroque. When faced with non-Italian visitors, Pasqualino told us, he’d calmly say the only words he knew in English (besides “Paula Wolfert”): “Just a moment.” Then he’d hot-foot-it into the kitchen to fetch his English-speaking brother to help the conversation along. Nick and I had a great meal at Jonico and have since sent many friends there. Fortunately we did not have to consume any of the dishes shown in the photo, all of which (pork chops, sausages, pig face, all the rest) were fashioned out of almond paste. Today, the Giudice Family still runs the place, offering up “the ancient flavors of Magna Grecia” in their same location on the evocatively named via Riviera Dionisio il Grande.

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