The Grand-Duchess of Frascati – The Delight of Shopping at Ceralli’s

I do love to sleep in on a Sunday morning — or rather, that’s what I tell myself.  The truth is probably more like … I would so love to possess the right amount of self discipline to wake up early on Sundays and thus make the most of it but that rarely happens.  I don’t particularly like to cook on Sundays, either.  And for some reason, we are always out of something or another on a Sunday morning —  which obviously makes me someone who is just not very good at shopping FOR Sunday.  I wonder what a psychologist would make of this …  Anyway, last Sunday I found out that, as usual, we were out of milk and bread, and that the easiest thing to have for supper would be a steak.  The weather was vile, grey and drizzly and not at all conducive to outdoor promenading but needs must and off we trotted, my husband and I, towards the centre of Frascati.  We stopped to buy the mandatory Sunday papers and then went straight for our first stop, Ceralli’s.

“Ceralli” is the oldest food store in Frascati and in its fourth generation now.  It’s been going since 1920.  It struck me, out of the blue, as something quintessentially “descriptive” about the Italian way of life … this handing down of small business from generation to generation … even though this way of life is unfortunately on the wane.   Even so, I thought to myself, how many places in the world can you actually WALK to from where you live in order to buy some fantastic bread and good quality meat on a late Sunday morning, and be greeted by smiles and back-chat and innuendo?  I suspect some people think me a snob for eschewing the advantages (to me highly ‘dubious’ of course) of supermarket shopping — but pray, explain to me: what’s NOT to like about giving business to families who work their backs off doing what they do and treating you as though you made their day?

As mentioned, it was drizzling and the calendar says that it is January.  The temperature, however, was not at all what I would call ‘cold’, not even for someone like me who hates the cold.  The automatic door opened and, literally just behind it, stood Mrs Rossana Ceralli at the cash desk.  She is born the same year as my mother, 1926, and indeed they were in the same class at school (she tells me they were both not very good pupils and were always getting into trouble).  As I espied and greeted her, I noticed she was wearing a hat that would not have looked out of place in the middle of a terrible Winter in Siberia and exclaimed: “Oh my goodness, you look just like a grand-duchess.   You are the gran-duchessa di Frascati!”.   She though my comment was a hoot and it had her rocking with laughter.  We exchanged pleasantries and banter and she told me what a character my grandfather Riccardo had been and what a nice lady my grandmother was … etc etc etc … tales of the old times, jokes and sighs and merriment.

The store is famous for its bread, baked in a wood-fired oven outside, opposite the street of the shop. The building used to belong to a family called Bambocci and at the second storey, there is a piece of sculpture that is said to have been produced by none other than Bernini.  The reason it never got stolen is that it’s very much out of reach!

We bought some typical Carnival cakes called “frappe” as well as the bread and milk. And some white pizza too, of course.  It’s a busy place, people coming in and out all the time and the photos I took with my mobile phone are not very good.  I do hope, however, they will manage to reveal just how privileged I feel to be able to shop like this.

20140119_123021 Here she is … the grand-duchess of Frascati, Mrs Rossana Ceralli.20140119_123027 Don’t you just love her hat!20140119_123047 I love how she manages to ‘work’ and joke at the same time ….20140119_123051 She may be going 87 …. but she’s as sharp as ever!20140119_123055 20140119_123058 Jam tarts …20140119_123103Various other sweets and pastries …20140119_123124 Pizza galore ….20140119_123128 They sell various cheeses and cured meats …porchetta too.20140119_123135 Eugenio Ceralli … her son.20140119_123203Dried stockfish hanging from the ceiling (baccalà) … the kind knows as “gaspé” which is very sought after for its quality.
20140119_123226 Here are the frappe … fried, the way they are supposed to be!20140119_123234 These frappe have been oven cooked, instead, and one end dunked in chocolate.20140119_123401 Marco, who is Eugenio’s nephew …20140119_123641These are called “coppiette” — little couples.  It’s dried out meat that is seasoned with various herbs and spices.  The closest word in English I can think of is “jerky” (as in beef jerky).
20140119_123655Only these “coppiette” are made with horse flesh.  Home prepared by Ceralli.
20140119_123711 They also prepare what is a typical Calabrian sausage, called Nduja.20140119_123827 Eugenio showing off his pizza just out of the oven …20140119_123917 And this is a glimpse of their oven, just across their shop.  Look up in the photo and spot the Bernini scuplture of a face.20140119_124203Can you see the twigs and wood on the side of the wall?

20140119_124145Ceralli sports various award-giving stickers on its window.  Can you blame them?

About myhomefoodthatsamore

Community celebration via food, wine and all beautiful things.
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22 Responses to The Grand-Duchess of Frascati – The Delight of Shopping at Ceralli’s

  1. How wonderful to be able to walk to this shop. It’s fabulous and a really great post to read Jo, so many thanks for sharing your local grocer and baker.

    • Thank you for commenting Kay! You are always so generous with your comments, I really appreciate it. I think you and I share, not just a love of good food, wherever it may hail from (I’m remembering your posts on Turkey recently) … but it’s the people too who are important, they make eating and drinking all the more enjoyable.

  2. I can’t wait to go back. You make it sound so delightful.

    • Thank you Debra! It’s always delightful when one is not in a hurry and can look upon the quirks and niceties of human nature. When we are in a hurry, on the other hand, and need to get things done ‘fast’ and ‘now’, we overlook a lot of this.

  3. This is great! I’ve been to lots of shops in Italy with ‘granny’ still handling the cash register.

    • What a super comment Stefan! Yep, these grannies over here … they keep going, ha! Mine left us at the age of 93. She was just about bed-ridden by then. BUt up until the age of 90, she was still mopping the floor, and ironing and helping with the cooking!

  4. Jo, I love these human relations stories you have been posting lately. These photos brought back memories of when I was visiting Italy. Thank you for sharing these detailed photos that says so much stories, which make me feel as if I was there with you.

    • Oh Fae … you always say the nicest things. And that’s because you obviously ‘think’ nice things. Yes, I am a people person and am attracted to ‘characters’ … they are our everyday cinema, no?

  5. Really, really enjoyed that Jo, thanks for sharing!

  6. Karen Nakakihara says:

    Lovely post! I so enjoy reading your blog :o)

  7. Karen says:

    Your are indeed lucky to have such a wonderful shop so close to your home. I noticed all the Gambero Rosso awards…that means it is a real treasure. 🙂

  8. Alanna says:

    Cara mia, mi sento pieno di nostalgia per te e tutte le negozie di Frascati. Spero che vediamo a presto!

  9. such a fun shopping you’ve got there….
    lucky you my friend!

  10. What I wouldn’t give to have a store like this near by!

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