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Monday, November 12, 2012

Mailbag: Prof Cooper: Writes from Siciliy

Hello Everybody, I learned two interesting things about food and drink on my first day in Sicily, three weeks ago. I would like to share these with you. I went to lunch with my student, Erin Peterson, and Dr. Boris Behnke, a volcano geologist based in Catania. We went to a little local place across the street from the geology office, one that is frequented by the office staff. As we entered, Boris started schmoozing the restaurant workers, greeting them and shaking their hands. Very Sicilian. We ordered from a deli-like counter where three or four options were available. Erin ordered pizza and soda. Boris ordered pasta with meat sauce and a beer. I had the same. It was delicious! After lunch, the waiter offered us coffee or dessert. That’s when I learned lesson number one: According to Boris, no self-respecting Sicilian ever orders cappuccino after the noon hour. It is strictly a morning drink. Then he suggested caffe crema. I said if he has one, I’ll have one, and Erin did, too. Served in a small cup, caffe crema is a soft gelato - cold, creamy, silky-smooth, sweet, and coffee-flavored, and it is fabulous! I have been searching for it elsewhere ever since. Part of the problem is the name. I looked up caffe crema on Wikipedia and found something entirely different. I did learn, however, that Sicily is famous for great gelato, and I saw references to coffee-flavored gelato that sounded like caffe crema. So, if you ever get the chance, try this delicious gelato, by whatever name you find it. And remember, no cappuccino after noon – it ain’t Sicilian! I thought it was appropriate to pick up the lunch tab. Three entrees, two beers (or was it four?), a soda, and three caffe cremas, all for 15 euros (about $20). I love Sicily! I’ll see you soon, Dennis

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