Legendary confectioneries – the Caflisch
It is interesting how much confectioneries played a significant role in the life of a city, and not only in the capital. Their stories are very similar: usually it starts with an inventive and ambitious man, and after his early death, agile wives take over control and build such a reputation to the business that the whole world admire it. The Caflisch of Pécs was not an exception either, and you can get familiar with the confectionery legend of Pécs this week.
From Switzerland to Pécs
To introduce the life of Kristóf Caflisch, the founder of the confectioner dynasty of Pécs, we have to travel a bit further, as far as Switzerland. Cristoph Caflisch was born in Hohenstrins in Graubünden in 1838. The little Christoph did not stay at home for long, he was sent to Hungary at the age of 13 in order to learn a profession. He was not the only one, but already the third generation of the family from Graubünden, and several relatives of Christoph worked in Hungary.
Why did they leave? The reason is simple: overpopulation. The families living in settlements along the Inn and Rhine, dealing with animal husbandry traditionally, though exploited all square metres to pursue their activity, this was not enough.
Migration due to unemployment occurred already in the 15th century, and spread so much by the 17th century that they had a significant influence in their beloved new home: the Republic of Venice. Not surprisingly, good Venetians decided after some decades to stop the flood of Swiss confectioners. Thus, the Cantonese youngsters left for the eastern part of Europe to take their chance.
This is how Caflisch got to Nagyvárad in 1852, to his maternal uncle Finy Leonard. He was “released” after four years precisely, but he worked at the confectionery for two more years. Afterwards, he started gathering experiences; his first stop of wandering was Buda, and then came Székesfehérvár. After that, he worked as an assistant at his mother’s half-brother’s factory in Mezőtúr, and then for almost five years, he worked at the workshop of Károly Lugosi Palkó. After his ten-year wandering, he arrived in Pécs in May 1868, at the pastry workshop of János Giovanolli, where the real story of the confectionery began.
Sugar granny revives the shop
Caflisch said goodbye to Giovanolli in October and soon made an application for his own confectionery business at the municipal council of Pécs. And not anywhere, but for the patisserie of Benjámin Hügel at 30 Fő Street (Király Street today). Indeed, the most antique confectionery of Pécs has been a confectionery since 1789. The history of the building itself would deserve a separate chapter, as well as that of the master confectioners working here. Caflisch received the tenure in 1869 and could purchase it after ten years, from the heritage of a relative died in Mezőtúr. He married Anna Murányi in 1872; from their three children only one survived.
By the second half of the 19th century, a serious competition developed among confectioneries; the till then fashionable drinking habit became outdated and going to patisseries became chic. Confectioners like Caflisch introduced not just their profession, but a kind of civilian order of values as well. Caflisch’s early death – he was only 49 – could have been tragic for the patisserie, but it was not fortunately.
Actually, the Caflisch became famous nationwide and developed into a confectionery factory during the Dualism. Regarding the house, the shop and the workshop were downstairs, while the family and some of their employees lived upstairs. Between the two wars, more than fifteen employees worked at the patisserie, and the inscription Caflisch was put on the façade of the building during this time. In addition, they received the permission from the city leadership to place there the coat of arms of the city with the inscription “Since 1789” as well. The interior was dominated by marble with round marble tables and Thonet chairs, on which guests could have the famous ice-coffee and fig pie of Caflisch. The widow could be proud of her work with reason and of educating two confectioner generations and creating such a reputation to her shop during the years. What was the speciality of the place? For example, the ice-coffee that was a peculiar mixture of ice cream and coffee of course. Usually, they served it in a good-sized glass with a mixture of egg and ice cream, poured coffee on it and decorated it with whipped cream. Besides the unmissable Sacher and Dobos cakes, there were other delicacies naturally, like Mühle (Mill) cake of Marienvad, which is a special dessert as big as a mill-wheel, or the above mentioned fig pie. According to reminiscences, the “sugar granny” inspected the operation of the workshop regularly, tasted everything and made sure that all the guests felt themselves at home. She visited her rivals frequently, as she was interested in their traffic and novelties, because this was the only way to keep her business up-to-date.
The family could not avoid the crisis after 1945. They had to worry not only about lack of ingredients, but also about their survival. Later, they had to offer the confectionery, and the Catering Company of Pécs accepted it in 1952. The shop operated under the name Éva patisserie afterwards. Some family members worked for the still operating confectioneries as handmaids, for example at the Mecsek. Fortunately, Granny did not live this change, as she died at the age of 94 in 1948.
Already before the change of regime in 1987, the restoration of Éva confectionery emerged as part of the downtown reconstruction, with the approval of the family's third generation. Interior architect Béla Novotny directed the renovation of the interior. In fact, he had a punctual list due to an earlier inventory list, however many original fixtures and pieces of furniture and equipment disappeared in the course of time, that is why the original design could be restored just partly. The Herendi coffee maker that is known by many people was not part of the original interior. The ceremonial inauguration of the shop was kept at the end of August in 1988. Afterwards, there were several changes of owners, but fortunately, the house at 32 Király Street has been still loud with the clinking of cake dishes.
Translated by Zita Aknai
Márfi Attila: Caflisch - A legendás cukrászda története, Pécs, Házmester '98 Kft.