December

Mostaccioli Magi

Object: Mostaccioli Magi

Creator: Martino Monardo

Materials: wheat flour, honey

Place: Soriano, Calabria

Date of Creation: 2004

Musée des civilisations de l’Europe et de la Méditerranée (MuCEM), Marseille, France

EMu user since 2012

Mostaccioli MagiThe Calabrian village of Soriano has been renowned for the production of mostaccioli since at least the 18th Century (hard biscuits). Made with flour and honey often to traditional designs, mostaccioli can be distinguished between those intended for consumption and those intended as religious offerings, the latter often exquisite.

The production of mostaccioli in the region developed under the influence of the monks of the San Domenico monastery, and although the earthquake of 1783 and the Napoleonic wars saw an end to this activity at the monastery, production flourished in Soriano where it is sold at local fairs and festivals such as la San Rocco de Gerocarne. The production of mostaccioli for religious festivals and purposes is still based around the religious calendar, but a growth in tourism has seen production of the biscuits for commercial purposes maintained throughout the year.

With its roots firmly in the region and tightly bound to the religious practices of the Calabresi, mostaccioli have come to embody many of the values of the Calabresi even as they have experienced large waves of emigration since the 19th Century.

Martino Monardo, of the Monardo bakery in Soriano, is recognised as one of the most accomplised mostacciolaro. His apprenticeship began at the age of 10 under maestro Ceravolo Filippo, learning to draw the traditional shapes of mostaccioli: the flower, basket, palm leaf, fish, and mermaid. At the age of 16 Monardo became a chef ouvrier and began developing la fantaisie; figures and shapes beyond the traditional forms.

In 2004, MuCEM commissioned mostacciolaro Martino Monardo to produce a nativity scene, including this Magi, using the techniques of mostaccioli but with the artistic licence of la fantaisie.

Acknowledgements

Marie-Charlotte Calafat & Edouard de Laubrie