"The bakery is a happy place. When the afternoon sun enters the back window, it illuminates the stained glass windows of the old cabinets, glosses over piles of pastries, warm tourists, sitting at the tables of marble, intent to sample a cookie or a slice of fig tart." from Bitter Almonds
Maria's passion comes from pain and sacrifice, goes through the stubbornness and obstinacy and arrives in what today has become the center of the tradition of Erice.
The War, the experiences and the life in a convent have shaped the woman who has made the eponymous bakery the center of confectionery in Erice.
It was the year 1940 and Maria Grammatico saw her first steps in a Trapani where poverty did not grant any luxury.
"After the war there was hunger, there was really hungry. In Sicily it was like to primitive times. Where I lived I remember that every day there was a dead man. Every day!" From Bitter Amonds
At 11 years, orphaned of her father, she was sent to the Convent of St. Charles, there discovers a new world, a world of reclusion, a world of hard work.
"I worked a lot, at eleven years I entered the institute and there or you worked or worked." From Bitter Amonds
After staying at Convent of St. Charles for 15 years, having learned the art of pastry of the convent, she decided to open a little shop where should could give light to all her acquired knowledge, starting from “only 3 pounds of almonds”, a trifle.
There, in that laboratory, in that little shop, with the help of the brothers and her mother, Mrs. Maria Grammatico experiments, invents, creates and, within the time, her name and her shop are bounded with the art of pastry in Trapani and Erice.
The book “Bitter Almonds”, written by Mary Taylor Simeti and published by William Morrow and Company Inc. of New York, tells the story of the woman who with the solely willpower, coming from a life of sacrifice and pain, managed to catch, with her passion, the secrets of the famous genovesi and almond pastries, which were well guarded by the Sisters of the convent.