Correspondence

To Get Something Done

"Before I have my coffee, I want a glass of lemon juice," I say to the barman. He is out of lemons, which apparently can happen even in Sicily. "Oranges?" Out of oranges, but I suppose this, too, can happen. "What can I get then?" He offers me a lemon granita, made with crushed ice and sugar, out of his freezer. "Too sweet?" He swears it isn't, setting before me a small champagne glass that exudes the freshest and most definitive flavor of locally grown lemons I have ever experienced. Yet the fact remains that the concoction in question is meant to be a kind of dessert. It is much too sweet to put in your mouth first thing in the morning.

But, killingly sweet though it is, this one is undeniably the best of the genre, two Michelin stars and worth a special detour. So what is there to say, in the circumstances? Anyway, I eat the whole lot in an hypnotic silence, whereupon, mistaking my qualified admiration for unconditional surrender, the righteous barman begins the morning lesson: "I don't make it too sweet. Other people make it too sweet, when they shouldn't. I never do, because I'm careful. You have to be careful with granita. Never too sweet. You want to know something? It's all a matter of how much sugar you put in. If you put in too much, it becomes too sweet. But if you don't put in enough, it may be too sour." Humbly, I ask for a big glass of...

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