June 13, 2018

Noto, Sicily. May, 1988

Nick and I had been traveling throughout Italy for weeks, compiling the research that would result in his Great Italian Desserts book. We joked about our Sicilian visits to numerous pastry chefs, all of whom seemed to offer marzipan-based sweets filled with preserves made from a native citrus fruit. Whenever we told one that we’d earlier been to see so-and-so in such-and-such a town, he would invariably say, “Yes, but here in our shop we have something special.” Followed by the inevitable “pasta di mandorle con confitura di cedro.” Always. Until we met this man, Corrado Costanza. Yes, he had some of the predictable pasta di mandorle sweets (though in remarkable shapes and presentations.) But the thing I remember most is his gelato. I recall trying two flavors: rose and jasmine. Also a quince-paste dessert that made the glands in my throat quiver like a tuning fork. Such a nice man, frowning, offering his heart.

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