You can tell a lot about people by the way they eat bread. I once saw a large, muscled man come in here one day, remove a bottle of bruschetta concealed in his overcoat, break open a hard crusted Italian loaf, spread the bruschetta, then feed it to his chihuahua tucked away in another inside pocket. The man himself nibbled at delicate tiramisu, holding his fork so elegantly that he struck me as a ballet dancer trapped in a stevedore’s body.
On another day, I saw a little boy cry for a crème puff until his mother relented. The boy’s eyes were afire with the foretaste of the flakes of pastry and the smooth sugary feel of the whipped cream along his tongue. When his mother at last handed him the prize, the boy took it, broke it in half, and sat on the curb next to the old beggar who claimed this corner each afternoon as his own. The two sat there together eating while the boy’s mother crushed the tender symmetry of a Crostata di Frutta in her teeth. Seeing the boy distracted, she tossed the Crostata in the trash, a poignant moment for me, but one I could not seize until later. When the call went through, I heard her say “My husband and son will be traveling to Milan. Yes, yes, I’ll let you know. I’ve got to go,” she said, looking up as her son returned with the old man at his side. “Get away, she said. You smell,” and took the boy by the hand, and pulled him away.
One early evening, as our guests were leaving to their homes for dinner, and I rested in my favorite hiding spot next to the patio fountain, my heartthrob Monica Bellucci arrived in a limousine, hungry for our famous Torta Della Nonna. Maybe it reminded her of her innocent obscure days before becoming a film star. Such a beauty. I sigh now to remember how she glided so divinely into our little shop. As humans go, she is exquisite. I have seen all her films at least twice, a feat that has taken up most of my short life. But oh, what a wonderful privilege to be the head mouse at the Panificio Mosca. Here, I am allowed to see how differently people eat their daily bread. And now, excuse me, but a certain distracted lady’s Crostata di Frutta awaits me.