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Cannoli: Food for Thought

Jan
22
2008

Salvatore Cuffaro, by most accounts, should not be a happy man. Sicily’s governor, long plagued by accusations of elbow-rubbing with the Mafia, was recently sentenced to five years in prison for misdeeds.
So why was he passing around a tray of cannoli after hearing the news?
Firstly, because it was a “meno male” (less bad) kind of sentence. If you stick to the letter of what the judges said, he was convicted of helping a Mafia boss by providing him with confidential investigator’s information. But he wasn’t nailed for ties to the Mafia or formally accused of being in cahoots with Cosa Nostra, a distinction that apparently makes some difference.
Also, Cuffaro, who looks sort of like a young Tom Bosley, has “justice” on his side. Though he was sentenced to five years in prison and banned from public office, he has denied all wrongdoing.
The Gov will be appealing, and most sentences in Italy aren’t enforced until the appeals are finished, which means he’ll likely serve out his term as governor while the case has a slow, difficult digestion in the clogged Italian court system.
In a sense, he has saved “capra e cavoli,” (goat and cabbage as the old logic puzzle goes) neither ruining his career or his reputation, which seems reason enough to pass around a fitting symbol of his region.
But since he didn’t quite get his just desserts, that tray of cannoli has come back to haunt him. The ricotta sweets have become “instrumentalized,” he told daily Corriere della Sera. Adding that he “never celebrated” and fully understands the weight of the charges brought against him.
He didn’t bring the celebratory cannoli with him, but one of his many well-wishers did.
Locals have in fact supported him through thick and thin, in part due to his avuncular charm in the face of accusations, prayer vigils were organized throughout the island the night before the sentence was read. Still, you have hope even they understand that it’s a sweet, but hollow, victory.

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