Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Narciso: Pasticceria di 3 Generazione

Its hard not to pass by Narciso if you take a walk around the old walls of Macerata. Its always there, waiting perfectly around the curve right after the grand view of the park and rolling hills, a lucky spot to pause for a shot of espresso or a cup of cappuccino with one of the many delectable sweets - including *SHOCK* those traditional in Sicily. Its important to note that everywhere in Italy, a handful few food items are common like pasta and pizza but local fare is still the staple and it varries not just between regions but also between cities/towns (pizza, for exampe, is best in Napoli. Pesto, in Genova. Risotto, in Milan, and so on). Finding Cannoli and Cassata here in Macerata is almost bizzare, yet what a happy discovery for us!

Then began the story of Narciso.
3 generations of pastry-makers, the first one is the grand-father whos son, as a child, was too cute that they called him Narciso. During the war, he made friends with a comrade from Sicily who then revealed the recipe and technique for creating the Sicilian treats still made and enjoyed to this day many many decades later. Italian foodies are always suspicious about eating something traditional where it isn't but I'd like to think that Narciso was serious about keeping it authentic to the point that years ago they were still using ricotta directly from Sicily.

Throughout those years the bar/pasticceria (and even at some point, restaurant and pizzeria) went through many changes and saw the passing of time. Photos from various periods are scattered around the room like one summer decades ago when so many people came, all the tables outside were filled. Or the time when Italian Tour de France champion Fausto Coppi passed by. Photos of the old buildings, the old grocery showing how they used to buy pasta by the grams. Most interesting for me was the time when the jukebox came out and they had the first jukebox in Macerata. They transformed the space into a Diner and it was the most popular place in town. You can still see the remains of those glory days like the retro light-box signs with various gelato combinations.

Son of Narciso, the only one left taking care of the place and making the pastries his grandfather made. The recipes handed down to him from pastries to local food - all of them he remembers by heart. I hope we can come by again and write some of it down (he did invite us to come by for one of his traditional Maceratese dishes). I sure hope his children will carry on the tradition...

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