July 24, 2012

Palermo, Sicily. May, 1988

What the hell is this, you may ask. Watch your language, please. You’re in a convent. In Sicily, no less. Nick and I had tracked down the Convent of St. Benedict in Palermo’s Piazza Venezia from a casual mention our friend Dali had pointed out in Mary Taylor Simeti’s book On Persephone’s Island, hoping to sample the fabled sweets that they’d been selling for ages. Because these Benedictine sisters are cloistered, they’ve foresworn contact with the public, and so all of their transactions, we soon learned, are negotiated through this revolving contraption in the wall. As you enter the antechamber from the street, you find an order list in the open carousel, check off what you’d like, put in your money and then revolve the compartment. On the other side, the sister places your order and any change in the chamber and revolves it back to you. Sweet magic! Then, when we announced through the wall that we were here in Palermo doing research for Great Italian Desserts, the nun suddenly opened a normal door in the room, emerged and engaged us in conversation. A decidedly Sicilian approach to the concept of being cloistered. By the way, the desserts were terrific.

1 comment:

  1. All your blog entries over the past seven days or so are simply wonderful, but the revolving sweets drawer takes the ... cake. The entries this past week remind me of Michael Jackson's "Thriller" album -- every track a hit in its own right and no "Thriller fillers."