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The Ultimate Dessert On Planet Earth: The True Sicilian Cannolo

Updated on November 27, 2009

Most of the neighborhood locals were the Church of the Holy Spirit in Palermo engaging in Easter Monday festivities prior to the sunset prayers called Vespers on a balmy Sicilian spring afternoon in 1282. Some French officials (the occupiers of Sicily at the time), dropped by to partake of the festivities... and it turned out they partook of a bit too much wine as well. French Sergeant Drouet started getting a bit too friendly with a young woman and her husband took offense, thus like a good Sicilian stabbed the Sergeant to death.

Steven Runciman's The Sicilian Vespers goes on to state:

At once the streets were filled with angry armed men, crying "Death to the French" ("Moranu li Franchiski" in the Sicilian language). Every Frenchman they met was struck down. They poured into the inns frequented by the French and the houses where they dwelt, sparing neither man, woman nor child. Sicilian girls who had married Frenchmen perished with their husbands. The rioters broke into the Dominican and Franciscan convents; and all the foreign friars were dragged out and told to pronounce the word "ciciri", whose sound the French tongue could never accurately reproduce. Anyone who failed the test was slain.

Ciciri is the Sicilan language word for ceci beans or garbanzos. However, an even better test of Sicilianity that the Palermo uprising rioters could have used was the typical cannolo!

All you have to do in order to distinguish the locals from the tourists in any Sicilian pasticceria or bakery cafe, is to observe the way in which the cannoli are eaten. If they are held gingerly and small bite after small bite is taken, never compromising the structural integrity of the extremely fragile crispy cylindrical crust, then the diner is definitely Sicilian. If a large bite is taken so that the entire tubular crust cracks into several large pieces, usually accompanied by the sweet, sticky ricotta filling cascading down onto the individual's shirt or blouse, then you can collect your bet: that person is a tourist. What better way to tell a true Sicilian from a Frenchman in disguise? Hand them a cannolo, and if it breaks into pieces, kill them!

Think of it like going to a Mexican restaurant with a recent immigrant from an Asian or African nation. Chances are as soon as they take their first bite of taco, they will be about one second away from adorning their clothes with ground beef and salsa. However, remember that this is no longer the 13th century so be kind and don't follow the lead of the Sicilian rioters.

If the Sicilians had used the shattering cannolo test against the occupying Frenchmen, at least the invaders would go out with a smile on their faces! I can assure you that if I had to die, cannoli would definitely be my last meal request. I don't want anything else. Just enough cannoli to eat until I die... sort of a Sicilian version of La Grande Bouffe.

Continued In: The Ultimate Dessert On Planet Earth: The True Sicilian Cannolo - Part II

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