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Rosalia's Bittersweet Pastry Shop

Rosanna Chiofalo

Top 10 Best Quotes

“It was an overcast day, but the cloudy weather did not detract from the signs of spring that were evident all around them. It was the second week in March, and the official start of the season was just a couple of weeks away. The magnolia trees had already bloomed, and tulips, daffodils, and wildflowers were shooting up all around the convent's gardens.”

“Madre Carmela's favorite nuts were almonds. Not only did she like the way they tasted the best among all nuts, but she loved the flavor they imparted to Sicilian desserts from cakes to biscotti, and her favorite of all, Frutta di Martorana- the perfect fruit-shaped confections made from pasta reale, or marzipan, which required plenty of almonds. Who would have thought that the base for an elegant, regal dessert like marzipan came from such a simple ingredient as the almond?”

“Don't you see, Rosalia? I wouldn't mind giving up Paris for you. That's why I can think about staying here or even asking you to come with me to Paris. I can't envision being without you. Before, you said I was being kind to you when I told you how it makes me sad when you're sad, and happy when you're happy. But I'm not being kind. I'm falling in love with you. Can't you see that? I'm crazy about you, and it's tearing me up on the inside. You're all I think about when I wake up in the morning and go to sleep at night. You're in my dreams. Even when I'm struggling over how to make a better pastry better, you pop up into my mind! I wonder what you would add to make it better. Then again, whom are we fooling? Your desserts are always better than mine!" Rosalia lowered her eyes and said softly, "That's not true. You've won a few of the contests we've had. Madre Carmela wouldn't lie." "She's getting old. Her palate is changing. I've heard the other workers who have tried your pastries express how good yours are and how they're often better than everyone else's." Rosalia folded her hands in her lap. He is falling in love with me. He'd said it! Though she was frightened to hear this, she couldn't deny that she was also elated. Antonio came back to the bed and sat down next to her. This time, he closed the space between them. He pushed her hair back behind her ear, and then took her face in both of his hands. She had no choice but to look at him. "I love you, Rosalia. I know you say we haven't known each other long, and we need to just think about today, but I'm tired of keeping how I feel about you inside of me. I love you. And nothing is going to change that. I'll wait for you. Whenever you are ready, I will be here, and I promise you my feelings won't change. Do you hear me?”

“The more he got to know Rosalia, the more the mystery of her deepened. Someone had hurt her. He was convinced of it. His mother had taught him from a young age to always trust his instincts, and from the moment he had met Rosalia, he had sensed she was a frightened young woman and had been deeply hurt. Had it been someone in her family? Was that why she had "lost" them, as she put it? He turned around and walked over to where the statue of Saint Lucy stood. Closing his eyes, he prayed silently. Please help Rosalia. Please help her to heal and learn to trust again. Opening his eyes, Antonio slowly made his way back to the convent and his home in the abandoned chapel, thinking all the way about the pretty girl with the licorice-colored hair whom he was losing his heart to.”

“The fragrance of sweet tangerines reached Claudia's nose. She saw Sorella Agata squeezer tangerine into what looked like a cake batter. Immediately, Claudia's mouth watered. She'd never had a cake made out of tangerines. Orange, yes. She and her father had made both orange and lemon cakes throughout her childhood. Why hadn't either of them ever thought about making a cake out of tangerines? It was brilliant. For tangerines were even sweeter than oranges. "Ah! Claudia!" Sorella Agata stopped what she was doing and quickly patted her face with a kitchen towel, making sure to turn her back toward Claudia. "I'm getting warm with the ovens turned on." She took off her apron and fanned her face with it. Claudia was surprised at the nun's small lie. "Those tangerines smell wonderful, Sorella Agata. I take it you're making a cake?""Si. Torta al Mandarino. This is the second most popular cake we sell at the shop after my famous cassata cake. It's very sweet, but most of the flavor comes from the ripest, juiciest tangerines in season and not from too much sugar.”

“She scanned the masks, and her eyes were immediately drawn to one in a deep shade of purple with shimmering royal-blue sequins and feathers in the same colors. Faux sapphires and amethysts dangled from its sides. "May I have this mask, please?" The man handed it to Rosalia. "You chose the perfect color to complement your beautiful dark hair, signorina.""Grazie." She blushed slightly at his compliment.”

“Rosalia was standing in a field of fragrant white jasmine flowers. It was the first week in June, and the sun was especially hot today. She could feel it warming her head through the cotton kerchief she wore. A large straw basket, slung around her arm, held the jasmines she was harvesting for the jasmine water that was needed to make Gelo di Melone- watermelon pudding. With the temperatures well in the eighties, the shop couldn't make enough of the watermelon pudding that was popular with the villagers during late spring and throughout the summer. As she picked the jasmines from their stems, she frequently took the time to smell them although she didn't need to do so since the fragrance surrounded her. But she loved holding the blossoms up to her nose and inhaling deeply.”

“Madre Carmela brought the covered bowl over to Rosalia. A subtle, sweet aroma reached Rosalia's nose. Her mouth watered in anticipation of whatever culinary surprise Madre Carmela had for her today. Instead of waiting for the sister to unfold the napkin, Rosalia pulled it back herself and almost gasped when she saw what delights were in store for her. Puffy clusters of dough in vanilla and chocolate were piled one on top of the other to form a misshapen pyramid. Chocolate and vanilla cream oozed from a few of the pastries. "Ha-ha! I see you couldn't wait," Madre Carmela gently teased Rosalia, who quickly looked up, her cheeks turning the same hot pink hue as the sugar roses the nuns had painstakingly created this morning for a wedding cake. "That's all right, my child. I'm happy to see you are feeling more comfortable here. Go ahead. Have as many as you like." Rosalia wondered which one she should try first- the chocolate or the vanilla. She'd always loved anything vanilla, so she opted for one of those first. Instead of taking a small, tentative bite out of the pastry, as she would have done her first few weeks at the convent, she popped the whole sweet at once into her mouth, eliciting another hearty laugh from Madre Carmela. But this time, Rosalia wasn't embarrassed. She closed her eyes, savoring the pastry's airy, flaky crust and the rich sweetness of the vanilla cream.”

“But what really intrigued Gianni was the one dessert that all of his friends had been baffled by- the cassata- a Sicilian cake, originating from Palermo and Messina, that consisted of sponge cake dipped in liqueur, layered with ricotta cheese and candied peel, and covered with a marzipan shell and icing; candied fruit in the shape of cherries and slices of citrus fruit topped the cake.”

“Antonio spotted the owner, Signora DelAbate, who was coating the sides of a Trionfo di Gola cake with chopped pistachios. Trionfo di Gola, or Triumph of Gluttony was a very old cake recipe passed down from nuns over the centuries. The batter was divided among three different-sized round cake pans. After the individual cakes were baked, filling was spread on top of each layer, and then they were stacked one on top of the other. Once the cake was assembled, it was then frosted with marzipan paste, and the finishing touch was the coating of the chopped pistachios around the cake. The cake's tall, pyramid shape gave it a unique, impressive appearance. Rosalia had wanted to make a cake that was more elaborate than a typical wedding cake.”

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Book Keywords:

tangerines, march, flowers, triumph-of-gluttony, antonio, mask, marzipan, wedding-cake, rosalia-and-antonio, sicily, confession-of-love, baked-goods, ingredient, pistachios, sicilian, cassata, almonds, springtime, rosalia, agata, sweets, fragrance, confectionery, pastries, jasmine, cake, flavor, purple, sorella, vanilla

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