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1989 is the year when my grand-grandmother was writing letters to her daughter, my grandmother who just moved to Rome, giving her those family recipes from her motherland, Venice, that made her so proud.
Since then it's become a tradition of the family to pass on to the next generation a book made thicker with each passage thanks to new recipes added by the new generation and the stains of thousands of dainty cooked next to it.
Be it a real story or a legend I can definitely put together pieces of evidence starting from 1874, the date of the oldest certificate chopped on the brass dish of the old scale that I got from my mother kitchen.
Then, what has this all to do with a bakery in downtown Canton? In fact there is no bakery in my family history. Not in the mainstream that lead to me in the last 150 years, at least.
When I was a kid it was a weekly tradition that on Friday night we where making pizza at home. That meant that we kid were playing with pizza dough and enjoying the magic process of kneading the white mass making a mess of ourselves and the kitchen until push after push that sticky mass was becoming a soft and pleasurable to handle ball, like a sensual belly to massage kindly to not hurt-collapse it.
The hands were clean, the table was clean all was clean as the dough reclaimed all fragments and strings even from the folds of the skin of our hands.
And then the fermentation, three kids pushing each other to witness the magic growth through the small window of the oven warmed up by a pot of hot water. The scent of the dough changing from floury to "bready", with the inebriating accent of the natural yeast, the sour dough, that my mother was buying from the bakery down the corner.
And finally the baking! The Pizza growing double in the oven, the crust changing from a smooth and pale skin like the buttocks of a baby to a crunchy and coloured bread face, the tomato and the cheese turning from raw, wet, freshness to an irresistible harmony of taste compounded by the fully developed "bready" tone of the crust.
To enjoy that pizza was a magnificent experience, but what remained sticking to my mind was the process of making, and that lead me along my life to experiment every now and then with flour, yeast, "past madre" ("mother dough") how we call natural yeast, the sour dough used in every bakery and preserved and cared like a golden kid.
So fast forward 46 years from 1965 when I was 5 only to 2011, and here I was in Guangzhou starting every morning at 4 and finishing every night at 11 in my tiny bakery shop finally fulfilling a dream and a passion of my entire life, making sour dough bread, brioches, "cornetti" (Italian croissants), cookies and cakes of any sort.
Many still recognise me as the Italian baker on the streets of Guangzhou and every time I post pictures of some new bread I make ask me where they can buy it again.
I closed the bakery in 2014. It was a long story of passion, work, happiness, friendship, craziness, but most of all learning from experience and from my loving customers, and sharing a passion for taste and tradition of our Italian bread.
I never abandoned my passion for bakery and I make bakery training and classes to know bread and its ingredients, researching and making new breads at my place or where I am invited. So all who want to taste more of my bread and enjoy the story just follow me and come to my event.