by Melinda Gallo

American treats at Mama's Bakery

Today, I finally had a chance to go to Mama's Bakery, which I read about in The Florentine more than a month ago. I haven't found a good American-style forno (bakery) in Florence, so I was eager to try out this new one. Even though I love living in Florence and enjoy all the local delicacies, I still have my cravings for American treats.

Living in Florence :: American treats at Mama's Bakery

My friend Lisa and I walked through Piazza Santo Spirito and down via delle Caldaie and turned right on via della Chiesa. We had walked past the negozio (shop) before, but they were still doing work on it. The forno just opened two days ago after a few delays that kept many of us looking forward to the opening even more.

We walked through the glass door and into the inviting and modern forno. We were welcomed by the smell of something just being taken out of the oven, which got us even more excited for our snack. Chairs and tables were arranged near the door and in the back was the open cucina (kitchen), which could be seen through the large glass windows. The banco (counter) showed off baskets containing a variety of bagels and muffins. On top of the banco were a selection of cookies in glass jars, and one filled with brownies.

I quickly selected a toasted bagel with cream cheese because I haven't had one in well over a year. I had attempted to make bagels a few years ago, which weren't bad, but not that good either. I was hoping for a cappuccino to accompany my bagel, but they only serve American-style coffee, so I opted for a succo di pesca (peach juice).

My friend and I sat down with our morning snacks and chatted for at least an hour. I watched cars whiz by down the narrow street because I was facing the window. We both noticed the steady flow of people who came in to check out the American forno and purchase a few items to sample.

I commented to the American fornaio (baker) just how delicious the bagel was and he said that he went to a "bagel school" to learn how to make them properly. He explained the difference between steamed and boiled bagels, which I had heard about, but didn't know how to distinguish the two.

Before leaving, I wanted to grab a blueberry muffin, a chocolate chip cookie, or a brownie. In the end, I decided to just come back another day and taste them all. I'm also looking forward to the pumpkin pie that he's planning to make for the Thanksgiving season. I'll be knocking down the door to get a piece of that.

For any Americans who live in Florence, this new forno is a welcomed treat. Even though many of us have learned how to make many of the items we so miss while living here, it's such a pleasure to go to a place where we can enjoy them with a friend in centro (in the downtown area).

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