Lead Us Not Into Temptation

Next up is a supernatural twist on the old silk-purse-out-of-a-sow’s-ear story line that’s popular in food origin myths. It centers on a young novice nun by the name of Leta, also a resident of Siena. So it goes, one day she was cleaning out the cupboards in the nunnery when she discovered a heap of sugar and spices on a shelf (pesky mice chewed holes in the sacks, donchaknow). With no convenient receptacle handy, she scooped the whole mess into a pot and, since she realized she could use a little something sweet to eat, set it over the fire.

Shortly the kitchen filled with the intoxicating odor of caramelized sugar and cooking spices. “A few nuts will make this even better,” she said to herself, and helped herself to a few handfuls of almonds from the nunnery stores. She added honey and was just dropping in some clumps of dried figs and raisins when she happened to look down. There she saw a black cat rubbing up against her leg. The cat said: “It smells delicious, aren’t you going to eat some?”

“Oh well first I thought I’d add just couple of — hey! Cats don’t talk!!

It was the Devil. Leta quickly realized it was he who had been tempting her the whole time. Thinking fast she turned the pot over onto the cat, which transformed into the hideous figure of Satan before vanishing in a puff of sulfurous smoke.

“What’s all this brouhaha?” came a voice from behind. It was Sister Berta, the mother superior, bursting into the room. Sobbing, Leta told her the whole shameful story. It was then that Berta noticed the aroma still hanging in the air…a scent so divine it overpowered even the stench of the Devil himself. Curious, she went over to the pot and dabbed her finger in what was left of the mixture. She tasted it, then glanced over at Leta.

“I think you’ve got something here, kid.”

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