Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Quest to Find Cannoli

This is the tale of the quest I found myself over the past few weeks. It is may not seem like the most exciting tale, but a great discovery did hang in the balance.

When we first began our trip, Andrew, one of my classmates, expressed a rather intense desire to find a cannolo. (More on exactly what this food is later on.) He had spent the last few days in London but had not succeeded at finding this particular pastry. For the next week or so, Andrew’s periodic request to find cannoli was either ignored, or joked about by the rest of the group. However since I am quite the “proper” competitive person, after a couple weeks I began to see the search for cannoli as a personal challenge to my ability to locate something.

The quest began quite slowly. All I did at first was glance over the menus I saw on the outside of various Italian restaurants wherever we happened to be. Before too long, the entire group was not only looking over the menus on Italian restaurants, but also actually going a little out of our way just to search out these places. All of our efforts were to no avail.

This past Monday, we continued our search in York, despite the fact that Andrew was not with us. York possesses a great number of Italian restaurants within the city walls, and between the four of us there, I honestly believe we looked at the menus for all of these places. Not a single one offered cannoli. This was when I decided to take our search to the next level. For the challenge was no longer Andrew’s personal desire to eat the pastry; it was now a grand foreign quest for our group. If we failed, our entire voyage would have been in vain. (Ok, maybe not the entire voyage, but we would be really bummed.)

After returning to our base at the Coach House, I ran a keyword search and located a single café that sold cannoli, just outside of York’s walls. Then, using a “highly-detailed” map, I marked the location of our destination. We were officially prepared for the final stage of our quest.

The "highly-detailed" map of York. Also known as, a marked up tourist map. 

The marked location of the Cannoli. 

Tuesday afternoon, we set off around the walls of York. For two of us, the walk meant we would have completed an entire circuit of the city’s walls in our two days there. But this walk meant something much more than a silly accomplishment. This walk allowed us to fulfill our destinies through the completion of our quest.

Robert walking all the way around York on the city's walls with me. 

When we arrived at Skeldergate Bridge, we continued walking along Bishopgate Street, rather than climbing back up on the wall. After approximately three blocks, we found ourselves in front of Trinacria: Sicilian Café Bar. Inside, we found several varieties of cannolo. Our object fulfilled, we completed our quest by returning to the walls of York and completing our circuit.

Cannoli: the object of our quest.

Some of your may be wondering why we struggled so much to find cannoli here in the UK. As it turns out, these little fried tube-like pastries traditionally filled with ricotta cheese are a Sicilian dessert that American Italian cuisine has adopted. In other countries, including mainland Italy itself, the owners of Italian restaurants haven’t even heard of cannoli. So our grand quest led not only to the sweet dessert itself, but also to a little more knowledge regarding the differences between the US and UK. 

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