Inside a Pugliese Tarallificio
Dolciaria Monti is a family-run tarallificio, like most small businesses in Italy are. Their products are mainly consumed locally but they ship about 30% to other parts of Italy. Nepotism is something that is usually criticized but when it’s seen from a different point of view, it feels absolutely necessary. I find that nepotism is viewed as “unfair” only when it’s jobs that other people want! But what if you have something to give your children that they don’t want?
In Salvatore’s case, he entered into the taralli-making business through a side door. The grandparents of his wife started making taralli and other pastries from their home in Monte Sant’Angelo for weddings and special occasions, using the family’s wood-burning oven. Soon, they started selling taralli at the weekly market in Manfredonia, as taralli weren’t yet common to be found there.
They were selling so many taralli they stopped the pasticceria pastry-making side of their business and concentrated on just taralli, opening a store in Manfredonia.
Salvatore and his wife have three sons, none of which are interested in continuing to work for Dolciaria Monti, much like the case of the forno Pugliese I mentioned months ago (though he has daughters). Luckily, his nephew has expressed an interest in the tarallificio. He started at an early age, 13, and now works alongside his wife, who he met while she was also working there.
Luckily their children also seem interested and spent the afternoon there. Before you start talking about child labor laws, their children were on summer vacation (yes, I’ve been sitting on these pictures a while) and it was refreshing to see how much they enjoyed being with their parents and concentrated on actually making the taralli. Hopefully they will be able to pass the store directly on to their children.
Scaldatelli are a form of taralli, and the name means something as scalda is from the verb scaldare “to heat/warm up” and they are quite large, thick circles a bit larger than your palm.
The raw ingredients: flour, olive oil, some other special ingredients like semi di finocchio fennel seeds, are mixed in a large mixer. They are sometimes made with hot pepper, as well (my favorite).
The dough is then turned out onto a table to rest.
When the family is ready, they slice huge chunks of the dough off and feed it into the dough cutter, which cuts them into lengthwise strips.
The soldiers coming out of the dough cutting machine, ready for the next step.
Number 5 is alive? The sight of the dough being fed into the dough-cutter had a familiar look to it.
Salvatore demonstrates how they used to cut pieces and hand-roll the dough. Now the machine does this for them but they still have to form the scaldatelli by hand. The strips of dough are then formed into a circle and “signed” by the thumbprint that seals the two ends together. They used to do the entire process by hand and they were able to make about 25 kilos of product every day. Now that they’ve automated the mixing and cutting, they’ve been able to make about 150-200 kilos of scaldatelli every day (in addition to other products).
I see this little girl, the same one admiring the taralli allo zucchero, as the future boss of this taralli empire. She was diligent and interested in everything about it! (Or maybe she’ll just be a food blogger, like me)
Next up…the scaldatelli are not ready to go into the oven…yet! I’ll show you what happens next.
Via Della Croce 44, Manfredonia