Lucca Bakery claims a trade with secrets and sacrifices

Shortly after crossing the entrance threshold two aromas are perceived: that of freshly baked bread and that emanating from the passion of those who work there. “House founded in 1875″ it is read on the front, as a cucarda that speaks of the permanence and rooting of the Lucca bakery in the community of Luján and that makes it clear that it is the oldest branch of business in Argentina.

“I am here because it is a family mandate and because i love the bakery, I would never allow this to run from the line that the business has historically had. It is my life, since I was born I am here inside; I even come on December 25, when no one is there, because I like to have a mate on the block. I even have a hard time going on vacation, something that my wife cannot understand. Is that I am here and I enjoy“, Explain Mark Scorzatowho, at 37, is the fifth generation of a family dedicated to producing in this noble field whose delicacies do not go unnoticed by anyone.

Lucca Bakery claims a trade with secrets and sacrificesSantiago Cichero/AFV

Every August 4th, Baker’s Day is celebrated.actually, the day that honors the workers of the sector, in accordance with the creation of what was a prologue of the union that brought together the workers of the “blocks”, that hidden place for the majority where the most popular delicacies are amassed, those that accompany breakfast or meals, that go on a picnic or make work more enjoyable. At Lucca Bakery, croissants and crumb sandwiches are the stars among dozens of specialties.

When it opened it was italian bakerybut as all the neighbors said “let’s go to Lucca”, in reference to the founder’s last name, the new nomenclature was adopted by “popular decision”.

When Ángel Lucca set up his business, a few months ago Nicolás Avellaneda had succeeded Domingo Faustino Sarmiento as president of the country. And, what is even more striking is that, in Villa de Luján, as the place was called, even construction of the famous and imposing Basilica had not yet begunan attraction for thousands of tourists and a meeting place for parishioners from all over the country. “The Basilica began to be built in 1887, twelve years after the opening of our bakery”explains Scorzato, who is the son of Elsa Luccagreat-granddaughter of the founder of this enterprise that is the pride of the people of Lujan.

The imposing neo-Gothic temple, an unequivocal symbol of the city located 70 kilometers west of Buenos Aires, was completed in 1935, when the Lucca Bakery had already been in business for a few decades. Those melodies from “As Time Goes By”, performed by the pianist Sam in the famous theme of the film White Housecould well accompany the future of the times of the Lucca family.

The wooden shelves were placed in the first half of the last century
The wooden shelves were placed in the first half of the last centurySantiago Cichero/AFV

The original Panadería Italia was surrounded by dirt roads and the link with the city of Buenos Aires was made through horse-drawn carriages or the railway, both journeys lasting several hours.

“When Bartolomé Miter was in Luján, Ángel Lucca brought him bread”, explains the great-great-grandson of the founder. It could be said that the Italian Don Lucca, who had come from the Lombardy area, was a forerunner of the delivery national, since before installing his first counter on the corner of Lavalle and Mariano Moreno, he dedicated himself to dispatching bread in a delivery that he made by bicycle.

More here in time, Horacio Guarany, a resident of Luján, used to come and taste his favorite biscuits “in situ”. More demure were Ortega stickwhich has a field in the area, and Luciano Pereira, the illustrious citizen born in this city that still preserves its healthy small-town essence. In 1975, the bakery had already earned its fame, which is why Mónica Cahen D´Anvers made a special report there for the remembered cycle Monica presents.

It would not be wrong to say that Lucca Bakery is an example of perseverance in a country where economic conditions are almost never good and history unfolds with few fruitful periods, something like a parenthesis between repeated crises.

In addition, the long history of the family business makes it witness and protagonist of history. During the Battle of Olivera, the last civil war in the country and which would conclude, in 1880, with the problem of the nation’s capital, the Luccas aided soldiers in combat between loyalist forces and rebels. Many decades later, already in the 21st century, the family had to cover the windows with wood before the irruption of looting in December 2001one of the saddest moments in our history.

The year of the inauguration is a merit that stands out among the slow-paced streets of the city of Luján
The year of the inauguration is a merit that stands out among the slow-paced streets of the city of LujánSantiago Cichero/AFV

LA NACION toured the block from the bakery, an irresistible geography for sweet tooths. Three bakers in impeccable white uniforms enter trays with croissants and prepare to check the cooking of the crumb bread, one of the most requested delicacies.

One of the local vendors arranges the famous croissants freshly baked and ready to be offered to the public
One of the local vendors arranges the famous croissants freshly baked and ready to be offered to the publicSantiago Cichero/AFV

“In the oven is the English bread, which everyone knows as crumb bread to make sandwiches. It takes three hours to cook. It is said that he must rest for 36 hours, but, in our case, We work with a crumb bread that we only let work for 12 hours. It is extremely moist, does not dry”. Ferdinand LuccaCousin of Mark Scorzato and another of the owners of the business, remarks that with this cooking of the crumb bread “perhaps it is wasted because it is very fresh and it is difficult to cut, but the taste is unique”. It seems that the mixture with a special mayonnaise and exotic tastes such as “Caesar salad” make crumb sandwiches are famous for several kilometers around. “The crumb is cut in a special machine feta by feta,” he explains. Ferdinand Lucca, who for twenty years entered the block at three in the morning. The neophyte gaze cannot understand how some giant squares of dark crust can make the famous finite crumb.

The stable is imposing. With a good eye, it should extend for more than fifty meters. There he is, leading the stop, the winch, a giant work table from 1950where the dough is placed after being generated in a three-arm rectangular kneader whose central container is several meters long.

Three ovens, two gas and one electric, allow the cooking of products from dawn
Three ovens, two gas and one electric, allow the cooking of products from dawnSantiago Cichero/AFV

Master baker Juan Bruno has been working for the company for 37 years. His passion for what he does is faced with the sadness of a reality that is perceived in various areas. “The trade is being lost, my younger colleagues are the last ones left, you no longer see guys who want to come to work with enthusiasm, how does one come”, he argues giving an x-ray of a society that chose easier paths, different from those of those immigrants who made work the meaning of a dignified life.

Juan Bruno knew times when technology was scarce and “blood traction” made bread making possible. Today, an automatic kneading machine stretches the dough mechanically. “The boys no longer do more force, avoiding some diseases. The problem of the category is lumbar ailments due to movements with masses of 12 kilos”, explains Marcos Scorzato.

The historic scale is one of the prized jewels on the block
The historic scale is one of the prized jewels on the blockSantiago Cichero/AFV

Further on is the carving machine that shapes the bread. In a corner, on towers with covered trays, they are leavening dozens of flutes, mignons and milonguitasthe traditional breads that will be baked at dawn so that they are ready at 7:30 in the morning, when the Lucca Bakery opens its doors.

A local vendor arranges the croissants on a tray ready to put on display. Further on, a colleague picks up a colossal-sized cream cake to wrap. The exquisite aromas are confused and the heat of the oven camouflages the cold of winter a few blocks from the river. “In summer it is more pleasant to be inside the block than outside, since it is a very dry place,” say the cousins, partners and confidants.

Every day, 2000 invoices and a similar number of crumb sandwiches are dispatched
Every day, 2000 invoices and a similar number of crumb sandwiches are dispatchedSantiago Cichero/AFV

“There is nothing better than working on what you like,” he says Gabriel Rojas, a young man determined that tradition should not be annulled, who took over the work in front of the ovens. “We all do everything, if you like it, it’s not sacrificed,” he explains. David Rojaswhile he takes a huge shovel that he will introduce in one of the three ovens of the block.

A balance patented in London in 1867 still works accuratelywhile, in the sales room, refurbished several times to be in accordance with the comforts of the times, it looks elegant wooden shelves from the first half of the last century. On one side, family photos make up a black and white family tree. Below, the almond thread and the ensaimadas invite to a memorable snack.

The six partners, all relatives, make up the fourth and fifth generation of a family dedicated to kneading not only bread, but also the hope of a country exalted with the culture of work. 32 employees accompany the family, forming a SME that does not hesitate to offer its helping hand every day, offering what is not sold to Cáritas, the basilica, the firemen and the police, and kindergartens with children with diverse abilities. “We are a joint whole with all the employees, because you are the owner you are not more important than the one who cleans, attends or is on the block cooking”, he concludes Mark Scorzatoso charismatic that, surely, he must be a masterful salesman.

The Civil Code drawn up by Dr. Dalmacio Vélez Sársfield came into force in 1871, only four years before Don Ángel Lucca raised the shutters of his bakery for the first time. Undoubtedly, the adventurous spirit and forward-looking vision of the immigrant baker bore fruit, accompanied by the efforts of an entire family and the employees who have been accompanying them for decades to sell 2,000 bills a day and an equal number of crumb sandwiches.

Tradition and modernity in a place rooted in the tradition of the people of Lujan
Tradition and modernity in a place rooted in the tradition of the people of LujanSantiago Cichero/AFV

Lucca Bakery accompanied the growth of Luján and witnessed the ups and downs of Argentine history. And, with the famous croissants as a bow rudder, it was modifying its products according to the changes in the tastes of the palates according to the times. In a new celebration of Baker’s Day, perhaps the figure of Don Ángel Lucca will remind those anonymous workers who have the noble mission of kneading bread. So biblical and symbolic. An act of faith, like that of the thousands who come to that basilica that pays tribute to the patron Virgin of our country.

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